ISSN 1725-2423

doi:10.3000/17252423.CE2010.087.eng

Official Journal

of the European Union

C 87E

European flag  

English edition

Information and Notices

Volume 53
1 April 2010


Notice No

Contents

page

 

I   Resolutions, recommendations and opinions

 

RESOLUTIONS

 

European Parliament
2008-2009 SESSION
Sittings of 10 to 12 March 2009
The Minutes of this session have been published in OJ C 234 E, 29.9.2009.
TEXTS ADOPTED

 

Tuesday 10 March 2009

2010/C 087E/01

Next steps in border management in the EU
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the next steps in border management in the European Union and similar experiences in third countries (2008/2181(INI))

1

2010/C 087E/02

Cross-border transfers of companies’ registered offices
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 with recommendations to the Commission on the cross-border transfer of the registered office of a company (2008/2196(INI))

5

ANNEX TO THE RESOLUTION

8

2010/C 087E/03

Common European Asylum System
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the future of the Common European Asylum System (2008/2305(INI))

10

2010/C 087E/04

Commission action plan towards an integrated internal control framework
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the Commission action plan towards an integrated internal control framework (2008/2150(INI))

16

2010/C 087E/05

Cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters (2008/2180(INI))

21

2010/C 087E/06

Implementation of Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on implementation of Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts (2008/2247(INI))

23

2010/C 087E/07

Equal treatment and access for men and women in the performing arts
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on equality of treatment and access for men and women in the performing arts (2008/2182(INI))

27

2010/C 087E/08

Integrity of online gambling
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the integrity of online gambling (2008/2215(INI))

30

2010/C 087E/09

Ensuring food quality, including harmonisation or mutual recognition of standards
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on ensuring food quality, including harmonisation or mutual recognition of standards (2008/2220(INI))

35

2010/C 087E/10

Commission Reports on Competition Policy 2006 and 2007
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the Reports on competition policy 2006 and 2007 (2008/2243(INI))

43

2010/C 087E/11

Small Business Act
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the Small Business Act (2008/2237(INI))

48

 

Wednesday 11 March 2009

2010/C 087E/12

The social situation of the Roma and their improved access to the labour market in the EU
European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on the social situation of the Roma and their improved access to the labour market in the EU (2008/2137(INI))

60

2010/C 087E/13

Facing oil challenges
European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on possible solutions to the challenges in relation to oil supply (2008/2212(INI))

70

2010/C 087E/14

Greening of transport and internalisation of external costs
European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on the greening of transport and the internalisation of external costs (2008/2240(INI))

76

2010/C 087E/15

Input to Spring 2009 European Council on the Lisbon Strategy
European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on the input to the Spring 2009 European Council in relation to the Lisbon Strategy

79

2010/C 087E/16

Combating climate change
European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on an EU strategy for a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen and the adequate provision of financing for climate change policy

90

2010/C 087E/17

Employment policy guidelines
European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on implementation of the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States 2008-2010

94

2010/C 087E/18

European Economic Recovery Plan
European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on a European Economic Recovery Plan (2008/2334(INI))

98

2010/C 087E/19

Cohesion Policy: investing in the real economy
European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on Cohesion Policy: Investing in the real economy (2009/2009(INI))

113

 

Thursday 12 March 2009

2010/C 087E/20

Better careers and more mobility: a European partnership for researchers
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on better careers and more mobility: a European partnership for researchers (2008/2213(INI))

116

2010/C 087E/21

The protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on the protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games (2008/2173(INI))

122

2010/C 087E/22

Developing a Common Aviation Area with Israel
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on developing a Common Aviation Area with Israel (2008/2136(INI))

126

2010/C 087E/23

Sri Lanka
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka

127

2010/C 087E/24

Deterioration of agricultural land in the EU
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on the challenge of deterioration of agricultural land in the EU and in particular in southern Europe: the response through EU agricultural policy instruments (2008/2219(INI))

128

2010/C 087E/25

Employee participation in companies with a European Statute
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on employees’ participation in companies with a European statute and other accompanying measures

133

2010/C 087E/26

Children of Migrants
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on migrant children left behind in the country of origin

134

2010/C 087E/27

Croatia: progress report 2008
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on the Croatia 2008 progress report

135

2010/C 087E/28

Turkey: progress report 2008
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on Turkey’s progress report 2008

139

2010/C 087E/29

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: progress report 2008
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on the 2008 progress report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

147

2010/C 087E/30

The mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
European Parliament recommendation to the Council of 12 March 2009 on the mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (2008/2290(INI))

153

2010/C 087E/31

5th World Water Forum in Istanbul, 16-22 March 2009
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on water in the light of the 5th World Water Forum to be held in Istanbul on 16-22 March 2009

157

2010/C 087E/32

EC Development Assistance to Health Services in Sub-Saharan Africa
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on an approach to EC development assistance to health services in sub-Saharan Africa

162

2010/C 087E/33

Implementation of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on the implementation of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)

166

2010/C 087E/34

EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership
European Parliament recommendation to the Council of 12 March 2009 on the European Union-Brazil Strategic Partnership (2008/2288(INI))

168

2010/C 087E/35

EU-Mexico Strategic Partnership
European Parliament recommendation to the Council of 12 March 2009 on an EU-Mexico Strategic Partnership (2008/2289(INI))

172

2010/C 087E/36

50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising and dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Government
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising and dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Government

177

2010/C 087E/37

Guinea-Bissau
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on Guinea-Bissau

178

2010/C 087E/38

Phillipines
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on the Philippines

181

2010/C 087E/39

Expulsions of NGOs from Darfur
European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2009 on expulsions of NGOs from Darfur

183

 

II   Information

 

INFORMATION FROM EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTIONS, BODIES, OFFICES AND AGENCIES

 

European Parliament
2008-2009 SESSION
Sittings of 10 to 12 March 2009
The Minutes of this session have been published in OJ C 234 E, 29.9.2009.
TEXTS ADOPTED

 

Wednesday 11 March 2009

2010/C 087E/40

Rules of Procedure: extending the applicability of Rule 139
European Parliament decision of 11 March 2009 extending the applicability of Rule 139 of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure until the end of the seventh parliamentary term

186

 

III   Preparatory acts

 

European Parliament
2008-2009 SESSION
Sittings of 10 to 12 March 2009
The Minutes of this session have been published in OJ C 234 E, 29.9.2009.
TEXTS ADOPTED

 

Tuesday 10 March 2009

2010/C 087E/41

EC-Armenia agreement: air services *
European Parliament legislative resolution of 10 March 2009 on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Armenia on certain aspects of air services (COM(2007)0729 – C6-0519/2008 – 2007/0251(CNS))

188

2010/C 087E/42

EC-Israel agreement: air services *
European Parliament legislative resolution of 10 March 2009 on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the State of Israel on certain aspects of air services (COM(2008)0178 – C6-0520/2008 – 2008/0068(CNS))

188

2010/C 087E/43

Additional protocol to the Agreement between the EC and South Africa, to take account of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU ***
European Parliament legislative resolution of 10 March 2009 on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the conclusion of the additional protocol to the Agreement on Trade, Development and Cooperation between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of South Africa, of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union (16447/2008 - COM(2008)0749 – C6-0017/2009 – 2008/0212(AVC))

189

2010/C 087E/44

Type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles ***I
European Parliament legislative resolution of 10 March 2009 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles (COM(2008)0316 – C6-0210/2008 – 2008/0100(COD))

190

P6_TC1-COD(2008)0100Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 10 March 2009 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EC) No …/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefor

190

2010/C 087E/45

Industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) ***I
European Parliament legislative resolution of 10 March 2009 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (recast) (COM(2007)0844 – C6-0002/2008 – 2007/0286(COD))

191

P6_TC1-COD(2007)0286Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 10 March 2009 with a view to the adoption of Directive 2009/…/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (recast)

192

ANNEX I

232

ANNEX II

236

ANNEX III

237

ANNEX IV

238

ANNEX V

239

ANNEX VI

244

ANNEX VII

255

ANNEX VIII

265

ANNEX IX

266

ANNEX X

268

2010/C 087E/46

Statute for a European private company *
European Parliament legislative resolution of 10 March 2009 on the proposal for a Council regulation on the Statute for a European private company (COM(2008)0396 — C6-0283/2008 — 2008/0130(CNS))

300

2010/C 087E/47

Guidelines for the 2010 budget procedure – Section III
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the guidelines for the 2010 budget procedure, Section III – Commission (2009/2005(BUD))

321

2010/C 087E/48

Guidelines for the 2010 budget procedure – Sections I, II and IV to IX
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the guidelines for the 2010 budget procedure, Section I – European Parliament, Section II – Council, Section IV – Court of Justice, Section V – Court of Auditors, Section VI – European Economic and Social Committee, Section VII – Committee of the Regions, Section VIII – European Ombudsman, Section IX – European Data Protection Supervisor (2009/2004(BUD))

327

 

Wednesday 11 March 2009

2010/C 087E/49

VAT exemption on the final importation of certain goods *
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the proposal for a Council directive determining the scope of Article 143(b) and (c) of Directive 2006/112/EC as regards exemption from value added tax on the final importation of certain goods on the common system of value added tax (codified version) (COM(2008)0575 – C6-0347/2008 – 2008/0181(CNS))

332

2010/C 087E/50

Europol staff: adjustment of basic salaries and allowances *
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the initiative of the French Republic with a view to adopting a Council decision adjusting the basic salaries and allowances applicable to Europol staff (14479/2008 – C6-0038/2009 – 2009/0804(CNS))

333

2010/C 087E/51

Mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund
European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund, in accordance with point 26 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (COM(2009)0023 – C6-0040/2009 – 2009/2007(ACI))

334

ANNEX

334

2010/C 087E/52

Draft amending budget 1/2009: floods in Romania
European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on Draft amending budget No 1/2009 of the European Union for the financial year 2009, Section III - Commission (6952/2009 – C6-0075/2009 – 2009/2008(BUD))

335

2010/C 087E/53

Common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for the relevant activities of maritime administrations ***III
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for the relevant activities of maritime administrations (recast) (PE-CONS 3719/2008 – C6-0042/2009 – 2005/0237A(COD))

337

2010/C 087E/54

Common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations ***III
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations (recast) (PE-CONS 3720/2008 – C6-0043/2009 – 2005/0237B(COD))

338

2010/C 087E/55

Port State control ***III
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on port State control (recast) (PE-CONS 3721/2008 – C6-0044/2009 – 2005/0238(COD))

339

2010/C 087E/56

Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system ***III
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2002/59/EC establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system (PE-CONS 3722/2008 – C6-0045/2009 – 2005/0239(COD))

340

2010/C 087E/57

Investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector ***III
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the fundamental principles governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector and amending Directives 1999/35/EC and 2002/59/EC (PE-CONS 3723/2008 – C6-0046/2009 – 2005/0240(COD))

341

2010/C 087E/58

The liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents ***III
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents (PE-CONS 3724/2008 – C6-0047/2009 – 2005/0241(COD))

342

2010/C 087E/59

Civil liability and financial guarantees of shipowners ***II
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the common position adopted by the Council with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the insurance of shipowners for maritime claims (14287/2/2008 – C6-0483/2008 – 2005/0242(COD))

343

2010/C 087E/60

Compliance with flag State requirements ***II
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the common position adopted by the Council with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on compliance with flag State requirements (14288/2/2008 – C6-0484/2008 – 2005/0236(COD))

344

2010/C 087E/61

The charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures ***I
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 1999/62/EC on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures (COM(2008)0436 – C6-0276/2008 – 2008/0147(COD))

345

P6_TC1-COD(2008)0147Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 11 March 2009 with a view to the adoption of Directive 2009/…/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 1999/62/EC on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures

345

ANNEX

360

2010/C 087E/62

Public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents ***I
Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (recast) (COM(2008)0229 – C6-0184/2008 – 2008/0090(COD))

362

P6_TC1-COD(2008)0069Regulation (EC) No …/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (recast)

363

ANNEX

380

2010/C 087E/63

Guidelines for the Member States’ employment policies *
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 March 2009 on the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (COM(2008)0869 – C6-0050/2009 – 2008/0252(CNS))

381

 

Thursday 12 March 2009

2010/C 087E/64

Multi-annual recovery plan for bluefin tuna *
European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 March 2009 on the proposal for a Council regulation concerning a multi-annual recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (COM(2009)0093 – C6-0081/2009 – 2009/0029(CNS))

381

Key to symbols used

*

Consultation procedure

**I

Cooperation procedure: first reading

**II

Cooperation procedure: second reading

***

Assent procedure

***I

Codecision procedure: first reading

***II

Codecision procedure: second reading

***III

Codecision procedure: third reading

(The type of procedure is determined by the legal basis proposed by the Commission.)

Political amendments: new or amended text is highlighted in bold italics; deletions are indicated by the symbol ▐.

Technical corrections and adaptations by the services: new or replacement text is highlighted in italics and deletions are indicated by the symbol ║.

EN

 


I Resolutions, recommendations and opinions

RESOLUTIONS

European Parliament 2008-2009 SESSION Sittings of 10 to 12 March 2009 The Minutes of this session have been published in OJ C 234 E, 29.9.2009. TEXTS ADOPTED

Tuesday 10 March 2009

1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/1


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Next steps in border management in the EU

P6_TA(2009)0085

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the next steps in border management in the European Union and similar experiences in third countries (2008/2181(INI))

2010/C 87 E/01

The European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 February 2008 entitled ‘Preparing the next steps in border management in the European Union’ (COM(2008)0069),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 February 2008 entitled ‘Report on the evaluation and future development of the FRONTEX Agency’ (COM(2008)0067),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 February 2008 entitled ‘Examining the creation of a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR)’ (COM(2008)0068),

having regard to the preliminary comments of the European Data Protection Supervisor of 3 March 2008 and to the joint comments of the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party and the Working Party on Police and Justice of 29 April 2008 on the three above mentioned communications,

having regard to the Council Conclusions on the management of the external borders of the Member States of the European Union,

having regard to Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) (1),

having regard to Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008 concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation) (2),

having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1104/2008 of 24 October 2008 on migration from the Schengen Information System (SIS 1+) to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (3) and to Council Decision 2008/839/JHA of 24 October 2008 on migration from the Schengen Information System (SIS 1+) to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (4),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 24 November 2005 on improved effectiveness, enhanced interoperability and synergies among European databases in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (COM(2005)0597),

having regard to its resolution of 18 December 2008 on the evaluation and future development of the FRONTEX Agency and of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) (5),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A6-0061/2009),

A.

whereas the dismantling of the EU's internal border controls is one of the greatest achievements of European integration,

B.

whereas an area without internal borders cannot function without shared responsibility and solidarity in managing its external borders,

C.

whereas attention should be paid to cooperation with the border security authorities of third countries’ in line with general EU external policy,

D.

whereas the EU external border is crossed every year by 160 million EU citizens, 60 million third country nationals (TCNs) not requiring a visa, and 80 million requiring a visa,

E.

whereas measures to enhance border security must go hand in hand with facilitation of passenger flows and the promotion of mobility in an increasingly globalised world,

F.

whereas within the framework of EU integrated border management, several instruments and programmes have already been established, are in the course of preparation or are at the stage of policy development,

G.

whereas the Commission has stated that it intends to be ready in 2009-2010 to present legislative proposals for the introduction of an entry/exit system, a Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) and an Electronic System of Travel Authorisation (ESTA),

H.

whereas similar systems exist in Australia and are being implemented by the USA as part of the US-VISIT programme,

I.

whereas a comprehensive master plan setting out the overall architecture of the EU's border strategy as well as a thorough evaluation and assessment of existing systems and those under preparation are lacking,

Entry/exit system

1.

Is aware that the so-called ‘overstayers’, who are central to the proposed entry/exit system, are supposed to represent the biggest category of illegal immigrants in the EU; requests, however, more information on the data collected by an external contractor estimating that ‘there were up to 8 million illegal immigrants within the EU25 in 2006’ (6); insists, moreover, on a clear definition of the term ‘overstayer’, including the possible exemptions under specific conditions, and a closer qualitative and quantitative analysis of the threats/risks/costs they bring to European society;

2.

Points out that, although the proposed system and alert information might help to deter TCNs from overstaying, as well as provide data and information on patterns, further contact with law enforcement agencies is still necessary for an individual who overstays his or her period of admission to be apprehended, and therefore does not believe that the proposed system will put an end to the ‘overstay’ phenomenon as such;

3.

Does not have sufficient information on how this system will be integrated in – and interact with – the existing framework, on the possible changes that might need to be made to existing systems and on the actual costs generated by it; is therefore of the opinion that the absolute need to implement such a system remains doubtful;

4.

Recalls that the correct functioning of the entry/exit system will depend both materially and operationally on the success of the VIS and SIS II; points out that these instruments are not yet fully operational and that it has thus not yet been possible to evaluate them properly; stresses that the operability and reliability of the SIS II are being called into question;

5.

Notes that, without a doubt and following the lessons learned in the USA, it is more challenging to implement exit capability than entry, and in particular with regard to sea and land exit; furthermore, following the same lessons learned, has considerable concerns about the cost-effectiveness of such a system; therefore calls on the Commission to provide additional information on the actual investment generated by such a system;

Registered Traveller Programme (RTP)

6.

Supports in principle the concept of an RTP for TCNs, whether or not subject to visa requirements, which would help speed up traveller flows and prevent congestion at entry and exit points, and the possible use of automated gates by EU citizens, since Community law as it currently stands does not allow for the simplification of border checks except in the case of TCNs residing in border areas;

7.

Criticises, however, the terminology used in the Communication entitled ‘Preparing the next steps in border management in the European Union’ (‘low-risk’/‘bona fide’ travellers), as it would imply that a huge number of travellers are considered a priori as ‘high-risk’ or ‘mala fide’, and recommends the term ‘frequent travellers’;

8.

Points out that several Member States have already set up or are preparing such an RTP for TCNs, and highlights the risk of ending up with a patchwork of twenty-seven systems based on different criteria, including those on data-protection and fees; is aware of the fact that the Netherlands, together with Germany, the UK and FRONTEX, are seeking to promote the ‘International Expedited Traveller Programme’ as a possible blueprint for other Member States;

9.

Advocates a harmonised approach and therefore urges the Commission to speed up the process, on the basis of best practices in Member States, and to make sure that Member States continue to act in conformity with Community law;

10.

Notes that, in fact, RTPs for TCNs are different from RTPs for Union citizens; stresses therefore that a clear distinction between the two must be made at all times;

Electronic System of Travel Authorisation (ESTA)

11.

Acknowledges that it would be unwise to focus attention in terms of security measures only on TCNs travelling to the EU from countries with a visa requirement; questions, however, whether the proposed system is absolutely necessary and would like a thorough explanation of the rationale for it; is convinced that close cooperation between intelligence services in particular is the right way forward, rather than a massive collection of data in general;

12.

Wishes to be informed on the exact timetable and the details of the study as envisaged by the Commission;

Data protection and biometrics concerns

13.

Finds it unacceptable that the Commission failed to consult either the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), who had nonetheless expressed a number of concerns, or the Article 29 Working Party prior to the adoption of the Communication entitled ‘Preparing the next steps in border management in the European Union’; requests the Commission, therefore, to consult both in respect of any action to be taken under that Communication, as the proposed building blocks entail the processing of vast amounts of personal data;

14.

Is aware that biometrics are theoretically effective personal identifiers because the characteristics measured are thought to be distinctive of each person; however, underlines the fact that the reliability of biometrics is never absolute and that biometrics are not in all cases accurate; therefore points out that fall-back procedures should be provided for at all times and that risk profiles should be better defined;

15.

Insists on a standard protocol for the use and exchange of biometric information and interface control agreements to describe how the protocol will be used; is furthermore of the opinion that the use of biometrics should be subject to a quality standard in order to avoid divergences in acceptance between different systems used by Member States;

16.

Considers a ‘privacy by design’ approach to be an essential feature of any development which risks jeopardising the personal information of individuals and the public’s trust and confidence in those who hold information about them;

Conclusions

17.

Considers the objective of truly EU-integrated border management to be legitimate and agrees that it is important to continuously develop and strengthen the EU's common policy on border management;

18.

However, is of the opinion that, within the framework of border and immigration management, far-reaching proposals are piling up at an amazing pace; therefore asks the Commission to think in terms of the need for, and the cost of, the border logistics;

19

Deplores, moreover, the notion that the EU's border management policy should be founded on the idea that all travellers are potentially suspect and have to prove their good faith;

20.

Criticises the lack of a comprehensive master plan setting out the overall objectives and architecture of the EU's border management strategy as well as the absence of details showing how all related programmes and schemes (already in place, in the course of preparation or at the stage of policy development) are supposed to function together and how relationships among them can be optimised; takes the view that, when considering the architecture of the EU’s border management strategy, the Commission should analyse first of all the effectiveness of the existing border management systems of the Member States, in order to bring about the optimal synergies between them;

21.

Stresses the need for an evaluation and assessment, first of all, of existing systems and those under preparation, and emphasises that the EU's ability to achieve its strategic goals depends to a great extent on its success in managing the interdependencies among related programmes, as duplication and inconsistency between them will have a negative impact on organisational performance and results as a consequence; is of the opinion that no new instruments or systems should be launched until the existing tools are fully operational, safe and reliable;

22.

Is of the opinion that, before any investment is made, it is of the utmost importance to have a clearly defined operational context in which to align all the measures and emerging initiatives; points out, moreover, that it should be crystal clear what modifications are necessary in order to ensure that technology and processes work in harmony, and stresses that all investments should be economically justified;

23.

Expresses doubts concerning the need for, and the proportionality of, the proposed measures, given their expense and the potential risks they pose for data protection; is therefore of the opinion that they should be assessed against those criteria before any formal proposal is envisaged;

24.

Acknowledges that striking a balance between ensuring the free movement of a growing number of people across borders and ensuring greater security for Europe's citizens is a complex exercise, and does not deny that the use of data offers clear advantages; at the same time, is of the opinion that public trust in government action can only be maintained if provision is made for sufficient data protection safeguards, supervision and redress mechanisms;

*

* *

25.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex).


(1)  OJ L 105, 13.4.2006, p. 1.

(2)  OJ L 218, 13.8.2008, p. 60.

(3)  OJ L 299, 8.11.2008, p. 1.

(4)  OJ L 299, 8.11.2008, p. 43.

(5)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0633.

(6)  SEC(2008)0153.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/5


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Cross-border transfers of companies’ registered offices

P6_TA(2009)0086

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 with recommendations to the Commission on the cross-border transfer of the registered office of a company (2008/2196(INI))

2010/C 87 E/02

The European Parliament,

having regard to Article 192, second paragraph, of the EC Treaty,

having regard to Articles 43 and 48 of the EC Treaty,

having regard to the Commission communication of 21 May 2003 entitled ‘Modernising Company Law and Enhancing Corporate Governance in the European Union – A Plan to Move Forward’ (COM(2003)0284),

having regard to its resolution of 21 April 2004 on the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Modernising company law and enhancing corporate governance in the European Union – A plan to move forward (1),

having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2006 on recent developments and prospects in relation to company law (2),

having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2007 on the European Private Company and the Fourteenth Company Law Directive on the transfer of the company seat (3),

having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice in Daily Mail and General Trust  (4) , Centros  (5), Überseering  (6), Inspire Art  (7), SEVIC Systems  (8) and Cadbury Schweppes  (9),

having regard to Rules 39 and 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6-0040/2009),

A.

whereas companies should enjoy freedom of establishment within the internal market as enshrined in the EC Treaty and interpreted by the Court of Justice,

B.

whereas cross-border company migration is one of the crucial elements in the completion of the internal market,

C.

whereas a cross-border transfer of the registered office of a company should not give rise to its winding-up or any other interruption or loss of legal personality,

D.

whereas a cross-border transfer of the registered office should not circumvent legal, social and fiscal conditions,

E.

whereas the rights of other stakeholders concerned by the transfer, such as minority shareholders, employees and creditors, etc, should be safeguarded,

F.

whereas the relevant acquis communautaire providing for cross-border information, consultation and participation rights of employees as well as safeguarding pre-existing employee participation rights (Directives 94/45/EC (10) and 2005/56/EC (11)) should be fully preserved, and whereas, consequently, the transfer of a registered office should not result in the loss of those existing rights,

G.

whereas a rule requiring a company to maintain its head office and its registered office in the same Member State would run counter to the case-law of the Court of Justice on freedom of establishment and would therefore infringe EC law,

1.

Requests the Commission to submit to Parliament by 31 March 2009, on the basis of Article 44 of the EC Treaty, a legislative proposal for a directive laying down measures for coordinating Member States’ national legislation in order to facilitate the cross-border transfer within the Community of the registered office of a company formed in accordance with the legislation of a Member State (‘14th Company Law Directive’), and requests that the proposal in question be drawn up within the framework of inter-institutional deliberations and following the detailed recommendations set out below;

2.

Notes that undertakings can currently transfer their seat only either by dissolution and the establishment of a new legal entity in the Member State of destination, or by establishing a new legal entity in the Member State of destination and then merging both undertakings; further notes that this procedure involves administrative obstacles, costs and social consequences and offers no legal certainty;

3.

Draws attention to the freedom of establishment that is guaranteed for undertakings under Article 48 of the EC Treaty, as interpreted by the Court of Justice (12);

4.

Notes that a transfer of a company seat implies a transfer of supervision; points out that, in the context of the drafting of the 14th Company Law Directive on the cross-border transfer of registered offices, the maintenance of the existing rights of shareholders, creditors and workers must be guaranteed and the existing equilibrium in the management of the company (‘corporate governance’) must be preserved;

5.

Proposes that reference be made in the new directive to Directive 94/45/EC and Directive 2005/56/EC, in order to guarantee the coherence and substantive nature of employee participation procedures in the application of EU company law directives;

6.

Takes the view that a transfer of a company's seat must be preceded by the issuing of a transfer plan and a report explaining and justifying the legal and economic aspects and any consequences of the transfer for shareholders and employees; points out that the transfer plan and the report must be made available in good time to all those involved;

7.

Emphasises the positive effects of tax competition on economic growth in the context of the Lisbon Strategy;

8.

Notes that a transfer of a company seat should be tax-neutral;

9.

Suggests that the exchange of information and mutual assistance between tax authorities be improved;

10.

Calls for transparency in the application of the new directive in the Member States and therefore proposes a reporting requirement for Member States vis-à-vis the Commission whereby undertakings transferring their registered office under the directive must be entered in a European companies register; points out that, in the interests of better law-making, excessive information (‘overkill’) must be avoided when the reporting requirement is transposed into national law, provided that sufficient information is guaranteed;

11.

Confirms that the recommendations respect the principle of subsidiarity and the fundamental rights of citizens;

12.

Considers that the requested proposal does not have any financial implications;

13.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the accompanying detailed recommendations to the Commission and the Council and to the parliaments and governments of the Member States.


(1)  OJ C 104 E, 30.4.2004, p. 714.

(2)  OJ C 303 E, 13.12.2006, p. 114.

(3)  OJ C 263 E, 16.10.2008, p. 671.

(4)  Case 81/87 Daily Mail and General Trust [1988] ECR 5483.

(5)  Case C-212/97 Centros [1999] ECR I-1459.

(6)  Case C-208/00 Überseering [2002] ECR I-9919.

(7)  Case C-167/01 Inspire Art [2003] ECR I-10155.

(8)  Case C-411/03 SEVIC Systems [2005] ECR I-10805.

(9)  Case C-196/04 Cadbury Schweppes [2006] ECR I-7995.

(10)  Council Directive 94/45/EC of 22 September 1994 on the establishment of a European Works Council or a procedure in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of undertakings for the purposes of informing and consulting employees (OJ L 254, 30.9.1994, p. 64).

(11)  Directive 2005/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on cross-border mergers of limited liability companies (OJ L 310, 25.11.2005, p. 1).

(12)  Judgment in Centros, cited above.


Tuesday 10 March 2009
ANNEX TO THE RESOLUTION

DETAILED RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE CONTENT OF THE PROPOSAL REQUESTED

The European Parliament requests the Commission to put forward a proposal for a directive that should contain the following elements:

Recommendation 1 (effects of a cross-border transfer of the registered office)

Cross-border transfers of registered offices shall not give rise to the winding-up of the company concerned or to any interruption or loss of its legal personality; consequently, the company shall retain its legal identity and all its assets, liabilities and contractual relations shall remain unaffected. Furthermore, the transfer shall not circumvent legal, social and fiscal conditions. The transfer shall take effect on the date of registration in the host Member State. From the date of registration in the host Member State, the company shall be governed by the legislation of that State.

Recommendation 2 (transfer procedure within the company)

The management or board of a company planning a transfer shall be required to draw up a transfer proposal. The proposal shall cover at least:

(a)

the legal form, name and registered office of the company in the home Member State;

(b)

the envisaged legal form, name and registered office of the company in the host Member State;

(c)

the memorandum and articles of association envisaged for the company in the host Member State;

(d)

the timetable envisaged for the transfer;

(e)

the date from which the transactions of the company intending to transfer its registered office will be treated for accounting purposes as being located in the host Member State;

(f)

where appropriate, detailed information on the transfer of the central administration or principal place of business;

(g)

the rights guaranteed to the company’s members, employees and creditors or the relevant measures proposed;

(h)

if the company is managed on the basis of employee participation and if the national legislation of the host Member States does not impose such a scheme, information on the procedures whereby the arrangements for employee participation are determined.

The transfer proposal shall be submitted to the members and employee representatives of the company for examination within an appropriate period prior to the date of the company's meeting of shareholders.

A company planning a transfer shall be required to publish at least the following particulars pursuant to the applicable national legislation, in accordance with Directive 68/151/EEC (1):

(a)

the legal form, name and registered office of the company in the home Member State as well as those envisaged for the company in the host Member State;

(b)

the register in which the documents and particulars referred to in Article 3(2) of Directive 68/151/EEC have been entered in respect of the company and the entry number in that register;

(c)

an indication of the arrangements whereby creditors and minority shareholders of the company may exercise their rights and the address at which full information concerning those arrangements can be obtained free of charge.

The management or board of the company planning a transfer shall also draw up a report explaining and justifying the proposal’s legal and economic aspects and indicating the consequences for the company's members, creditors and employees, unless agreed otherwise.

Recommendation 3 (transfer decision by meeting of the shareholders)

The shareholders’ meeting shall approve the transfer proposal in accordance with the arrangements laid down and by the majority required to amend the memorandum and articles of association under the legislation applicable to the company in its home Member State.

If the company is managed on the basis of employee participation, the shareholders’ meeting may make completion of the transfer conditional on its expressly approving the arrangements for employee participation.

Recommendation 4 (administrative transfer procedure and verification)

The home Member State shall verify the legality of the transfer procedure in accordance with its legislation. The competent authority designated by the home Member State shall issue a certificate conclusively declaring that all the acts and formalities required have been completed.

The certificate, a copy of the memorandum and articles of association envisaged for the company in the host Member State and a copy of the transfer proposal shall be presented within an appropriate period of time to the body responsible for registration in the host Member State. Those documents shall be sufficient to enable the company to be registered in the host Member State. The competent authority responsible for registration in the host Member State shall verify that the substantive and formal conditions for the transfer are met.

The competent authority in the host Member State shall give immediate notification of the registration to the respective authority in the home Member State. Thereupon, the home Member State authority shall remove the company from the register.

Registration in the host Member State and removal from the register in the home Member State shall be published. At least the following particulars must be covered:

(a)

the date of registration;

(b)

the new and former entry number in the respective registers of the home and host Member States.

Recommendation 5 (employee participation)

Employee participation shall be governed by the legislation of the host Member State.

However, the legislation of the host Member State shall not be applicable:

(a)

where the host Member State does not provide for at least the same level of participation as operated in the company in the home Member State, or

(b)

where the legislation of the host Member State does not give employees of establishments of the company situated in other Member States the same entitlement to exercise participation rights as enjoyed by such employees before the transfer.

In these cases, the provisions of Article 16 of Directive 2005/56/EC should apply accordingly.

Recommendation 6 (third parties concerned by the transfer)

Any company against which proceedings for winding-up, liquidation, insolvency or suspension of payments or other similar proceedings have been brought shall not be allowed to undertake a cross-border transfer of its registered office within the Community.

For the purposes of ongoing judicial or administrative proceedings which commenced before the transfer of the registered office, the company shall be regarded as having its registered office in the home Member State.


(1)  First Council Directive 68/151/EEC of 9 March 1968 on co-ordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 58 of the Treaty, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent throughout the Community (OJ L 65, 14.3.1968, p. 8).


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/10


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Common European Asylum System

P6_TA(2009)0087

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the future of the Common European Asylum System (2008/2305(INI))

2010/C 87 E/03

The European Parliament,

having regard to Article 63(1) and (2) of the EC Treaty,

having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

having regard to the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and the 1967 Additional Protocol thereto,

having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national (1) (‘the Dublin Regulation’),

having regard to Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (2) (‘Reception Directive’),

having regard to Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status (3) (‘Asylum Directive’),

having regard to Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted (4),

having regard to the Commission report on the application of Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (COM(2007)0745),

having regard to its resolution of 14 April 2005 on Lampedusa (5),

having regard to its resolution of 6 April 2006 on the situation with refugee camps in Malta (6),

having regard to its resolution of 21 June 2007 on entitled ‘Asylum: practical cooperation, quality of decision-making in the common European asylum system’ (7),

having regard to its resolution of 2 September 2008 on the evaluation of the Dublin system (8),

having regard to the reports of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the visits to various holding centres in order to monitor reception conditions,

having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Communities of 6 May 2008 in Case C-133/06 European Parliament v Council of the European Union (9) concerning an action for annulment of the Asylum Directive, seeking in particular annulment of the Directive's provisions on the procedure for adoption and amendment of minimum common lists of safe countries,

having regard to the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum adopted by the European Council on 16 October 2008, whose fourth objective is to ‘construct a Europe of Asylum’,

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A6-0050/2009),

A.

whereas the legislative instruments relating to the first phase of the establishment of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) have allowed the introduction of common minimum standards but not of equal conditions of access to protection throughout the EU and, as a result, there are still problems such as secondary movements and multiple applications,

B.

whereas the Dublin system's first country of entry criteria can result in a disproportionate burden being imposed on some Member States, in particular on those constituting the EU's external border, simply as a result of their exposed location, and whereas this has harmful consequences for both Member States and asylum seekers,

C.

whereas the Commission's evaluation of the Dublin system reveals that, in 2005, the 13 border Member States had to deal with increasing challenges raised by the Dublin system,

D.

whereas, in its above-mentioned report on the Reception Directive, the Commission noted serious problems in its implementation, in particular in closed centres and transit zones, as the Parliamentary delegations were able to note at first hand during their many visits,

General considerations

1.

Notes that in the past year the number of refugees has grown to more than 12 million refugees and 26 million internally displaced people worldwide; in this context, supports the establishment of a CEAS and welcomes the Commission’s Policy Plan on Asylum, serving as a roadmap for the completion of the CEAS;

2.

Regrets that, owing to the change of legal basis which will result from the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, there are plans to put back to 2012 the deadline for completion of the second phase of the CEAS, which is due to put an end to the unhealthy disparities between the asylum systems of Member States;

3.

Draws attention to the fact that recognition rates of candidates to refugee status for certain third-country nationals vary from approximately 0 % up to 90 % between Member States;

4.

Stresses that the harmonisation of standards leading to a common asylum procedure and uniform asylum status should result in a high level of protection throughout the EU and should not be based on the lowest common denominator, which would deprive the common asylum scheme of its added value;

5.

Regrets that the concept of the institution of asylum, an essential part of democracy and protection of human rights, has been severely eroded in recent years; reiterates the need for full respect for the rights and needs of asylum seekers and the principle of non-refoulement;

6.

Draws attention to the fact that the EU should provide for mechanisms at the external borders to identify asylum seekers and ensure that persons entitled to international protection gain access to EU territory, including in the context of its external border control operations;

7.

Welcomes the fact that the Commission has identified access for those in need of protection to be one of the overarching objectives of the CEAS;

8.

Calls on the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) to provide detailed data relating to the number of asylum seekers identified as such during its operations and the plight of persons intercepted and sent back to a country of transit or origin during its operations; calls on the Commission to table a proposal for a revision of Frontex' mandate in order to explicitly state that protection and human rights concerns are an integral part of the management of the EU external borders;

9.

Welcomes the fact that the Commission recognises the need to ensure coherence with other policies that have an impact on international protection; calls therefore on the Commission to support and introduce initiatives to review and adapt all border management policies and practices such as Frontex and the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) to guarantee refugees’ access to protection in the EU and full respect for the principle of non-refoulement at the EU's external borders; in addition, stresses that the duty to render assistance as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is legally binding on the Member States, the EU and Frontex;

Improvement of existing legislation

10.

Welcomes the fact that, in its above-mentioned judgment in Case C-133/06, the Court of Justice annulled paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 29 and paragraph 3 of Article 36 of the Asylum Directive, which concerned the adoption or amendment of a minimum common list of safe countries of origin and a common list of safe third countries;

11.

Welcomes the positive initiatives carried out in some Member States to welcome asylum seekers – on submission of their request for international protection – in facilities that are open and fully integrated with local communities;

12.

Considers that asylum seekers are vulnerable persons who require appropriate reception conditions; draws attention to the fact that a prison environment can under no circumstances help them to overcome the traumas experienced in their countries of origin or during their journey to Europe;

13.

Welcomes the provisions mentioned in the latest Commission proposals that Member States shall not hold a person in detention for the sole reason that he or she is an applicant for international protection; considers that asylum seekers should, as a matter of principle, not be placed in detention, in view of their particularly vulnerable position;

14.

Regrets the fact that, in several Member States, asylum seekers are still detained following their irregular entry into the country, and therefore welcomes the insertion into the Reception Directive of procedural guarantees relating to detention; in this regard, is of the opinion that detention of asylum seekers should only be possible under very clearly defined exceptional circumstances and subject to the principle of necessity and proportionality with regard both to the manner and to the purpose of such detention; is also of the opinion that, where an asylum seeker is held in detention, that person should have a right to a remedy before a national court;

15.

Considers that the scope of the new Reception Directive must be clarified in order to cover holding centres, transit areas, border procedures and Dublin transferees;

16.

Welcomes the establishment, in the Reception Directive, of a formal system to immediately identify vulnerable persons, in particular unaccompanied minors, dependent elderly persons, disabled persons, pregnant women, single parents with children and persons who have suffered traumatic experiences, such as torture, rape, and psychological, physical and sexual violence;

17.

Considers that a single asylum application procedure and single standards for qualification as refugees or persons needing international protection should be established, covering all requests for ‘international protection’ (refugee status, subsidiary protection and temporary protection);

18.

Welcomes the fact that the Commission plans to clarify the conditions for granting subsidiary protection, and above all that it is suggesting that the level of entitlements and benefits to be granted to beneficiaries of this type of protection be reviewed; this should ensure greater parity of treatment at an enhanced level;

19.

Welcomes the Commission’s intention to amend the Asylum Directive and stresses that the common asylum procedure should provide for clear, uniform and reasonable time limits for the authorities to decide on an asylum application, thus avoiding long and unwarranted waiting periods which could have negative consequences for asylum seekers’ health and well-being; reiterates that granting of refugee or subsidiary protection status should always be subject to an individual assessment and in no way be limited to a generalised assessment (e.g. based on nationality) or conditionality (e.g. relating to the human rights situation in a country of origin);

20.

Considers it desirable to pool the information on countries of origin available to the various Member States and encourages the Commission to step up its efforts to set up a common databank; emphasises that the collection and presentation of country of origin information and the management of a portal should ensure that the country reports of different established experts are included, that the information is publicly accessible and kept distinct from its application by decision-makers (and therefore remains impartial and free from political influence) and that a fair balance is struck between governmental, non-governmental and international sources when collecting country of origin information;

21.

Welcomes the recast of the Dublin Regulation and the proposed provisions for a mechanism to suspend Dublin transfers if there are concerns that they could result in applicants not benefiting from adequate standards of protection in the responsible Member States, in particular in terms of reception conditions and access to asylum procedures, as well as in cases where those transfers would add to the burden on those Member States which are faced with disproportionate pressures due, in particular, to their geographical or demographic situation; stresses, however, that these provisions would ultimately be a political statement rather than an effective instrument to significantly support Member States without the introduction of a two-fold binding instrument for all Member States providing for the following:

(a)

the secondment of officials from other Member States under the aegis of a European Asylum Support Office to assist those Member States which are faced with specific and problematic situations;

(b)

a scheme to relocate beneficiaries of international protection from Member States which are faced with specific and problematic situations to others, in consultation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with the consent of the beneficiaries;

22.

Considers that under the revised Dublin Regulation asylum seekers should be granted the right to appeal against a transfer decision, such an appeal imposing an obligation on the courts or tribunals to examine ex-officio the necessity of temporarily suspending the enforcement of a transfer decision;

Administrative structures

23.

Firmly supports the establishment of a European Asylum Support Office, which should work in close cooperation with UNHCR and with NGOs specialised in asylum matters;

24.

Considers that one of the tasks of the European Asylum Support Office should be to conduct a detailed assessment of the remaining disparities between national asylum systems so as to contribute to their improvement;

25.

Considers that the activities of the European Asylum Support Office should include developing guidelines in order to facilitate more accurate assessment of asylum claims, promoting exchange of good practice, and monitoring the implementation and application of relevant EU legislation (supporting the Commission’s role as guardian of the Treaties);

26.

Considers that practical consideration should be given to following up the treatment of those returned to their country of origin or departure as a result of protection claims being refused;

27.

Strongly encourages the Commission to pursue its efforts to establish a common European training programme on asylum, given that the quality of decisions adopted in this area is directly linked to that of the training and information provided for decision-makers at national level; takes the view that a consultation of civil society organisations specialised in this area with a view to drawing up training programmes would guarantee effectiveness in this respect;

28.

Considers that all decision-makers must have equal access to professionally and objectively researched country of origin information, which is a core tool for asylum authorities and appeal instances as well as for asylum seekers, who rely on it to help verify their claim for international protection;

29.

Stresses that during the waiting periods authorities should take into consideration the different needs of asylum seekers in a more fragile situation, such as children, people with disabilities and women, and provide the necessary infrastructure;

Integration of beneficiaries of international protection

30.

Acknowledges the importance of the integration of beneficiaries of international protection with regard to democracy, security and economic considerations;

31.

Regrets that the rules laid down by the Dublin Regulation to determine which country is responsible for consideration of an asylum request do not take account of the wishes of applicants, and considers that certain criteria relating to family, cultural and linguistic considerations should be given greater consideration in such decisions with a view to promoting the integration of asylum seekers;

32.

Urges the Council to reach an agreement on the extension of the scope of Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third country-nationals who are long-term residents (10) to cover refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection;

33.

Welcomes the Commission's proposal in the Reception Directive to provide applicants with simplified access to the labour market, given that their integration into working life constitutes an essential condition for their integration in the host Member State and also assists in the development of skills which are of benefit both during their stay in the host Member State and, in the event of return, in their country of origin;

34.

Considers that, when determining the Member State responsible, the asylum system should facilitate integration by taking into account, among other elements, social, cultural and linguistic background, and the recognition of the educational achievements, professional qualification and skills of the asylum seeker that match economic needs in the host Member State;

35.

Recommends that no distinction be made between rights granted to refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection; stresses in particular the need to improve access for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection to social and economic rights, given that this is essential to their integration;

Solidarity mechanisms

36.

Considers that one of the objectives of the CEAS should be to set up effective solidarity mechanisms in order to improve the situation of countries with the greatest flows of asylum seekers and experiencing difficulties in guaranteeing adequate reception conditions, processing applications within the prescribed time limits and procedures or integrating applicants who have been granted refugee status;

37.

Takes the view that solidarity cannot be confined to the granting of financial resources and calls for the effective implementation of internal resettlement and relocation mechanisms on a voluntary basis as envisaged by the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum; is of the view that this would enable beneficiaries of international protection to be received by a Member State other than the country which has granted them the benefit of that protection;

38.

Considers that consideration should be given to extending the scope of Directive 2001/55/EC (11) to enable, in particular, specific categories of persons requiring international protection for a provisional period to be received even where there is no mass influx;

39.

Encourages the creation, under the aegis of the future European Asylum Support Office, of teams of asylum experts who can assist Member States experiencing sudden and mass influxes of asylum seekers with which they cannot cope;

40.

Calls on the Commission to consider the possibility of setting up a European mechanism for transferring international protection, under the supervision of the future European Asylum Support Office, to allow the movement of refugees in Europe at their request and thus ease the burden borne by some Member States;

41.

Welcomes the fact that the Commission intends to launch a study to review the means of improving financial solidarity within the EU, and looks forward with interest to the proposals that will be drawn up in this context;

42.

Supports border monitoring agreements between national authorities, UNHCR and NGOs in the EU and the allocation of resources to this end under the EU External Borders Fund;

Cooperation with third countries

43.

Emphasises that the CEAS should be fully coherent with the objectives and activities in the area of refugee protection of EU instruments for cooperation with developing countries (such as the European Development Fund, the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights) and agreements and partnerships between the EU and developing countries (such as the Cotonou Agreement and the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership);

44.

Shares the Commission’s view that asylum is an integral part of development cooperation with third countries rather than a crisis management tool; reiterates also that development cooperation, particularly crisis prevention, human rights monitoring, conflict transformation and peace-building, could serve as a means of preventing displacement; stresses therefore that the CEAS should be closely connected with EU development and humanitarian policies;

45.

Looks forward to the assessment of the Regional Protection Programmes due to take place in 2009; stresses that the development of such programmes should be fully coherent with National and Regional Action Plans, the Thematic Programme on Migration and Asylum of the DCI and, more generally, should never be a means to remove responsibilities from Member States and the EU; calls on the Commission to improve coordination of the measures taken by its various services in this context with a view to optimising synergies between them, and to report to Parliament on steps taken in this connection;

46.

Recognises the importance of strengthening the reception capacities of first-asylum countries and of setting up, at European level and in close cooperation with UNHCR, a resettlement programme laying down common criteria and coordination mechanisms;

47.

Also requests that an evaluation should be made of the adequacy of the funds available for measures relating to third countries, for example, protection within the region, especially in the light of Parliament’s stated view that these measures require additional funding and not a reallocation of development funds;

48.

Calls on the Commission to promote greater participation by Member States in worldwide refugee resettlement efforts;

49.

Notes with great interest the idea of setting up ‘Protected Entry Procedures’ and strongly encourages the Commission to give due consideration to the specific procedures for and the practical implications of such measures;

50.

Looks forward with interest to the results of the study on the joint processing of asylum applications outside EU territory which the Commission plans to conduct in 2009, and warns against any temptation to transfer responsibility for welcoming asylum seekers and processing their requests to third countries or UNHCR;

*

* *

51.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, Frontex and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


(1)  OJ L 50, 25.2.2003, p. 1.

(2)  OJ L 31, 6.2.2003, p. 18.

(3)  OJ L 326, 13.12.2005, p. 13.

(4)  OJ L 304, 30.9.2004, p. 12.

(5)  OJ C 33 E, 9.2.2006, p. 598.

(6)  OJ C 293 E, 2.12.2006, p. 301.

(7)  OJ C 146 E, 12.6.2008, p. 364.

(8)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0385.

(9)  OJ C 158, 21.6.2008, p. 3.

(10)  OJ L 16, 23.1.2004, p. 44.

(11)  Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof (OJ L 212, 7.8.2001, p. 12).


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/16


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Commission action plan towards an integrated internal control framework

P6_TA(2009)0088

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the Commission action plan towards an integrated internal control framework (2008/2150(INI))

2010/C 87 E/04

The European Parliament,

having regard to the EC Treaty,

having regard to Opinion No 2/2004 of the Court of Auditors of the European Communities on the ‘single audit’ model (and a proposal for a Community internal control framework) (1),

having regard to the Commission communication of 15 June 2005 on a roadmap to an integrated internal control framework (COM(2005)0252),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 17 January 2006 on the action plan towards an integrated internal control framework (COM(2006)0009),

having regard to the first half-yearly report on the scoreboard for the application of the Commission action plan towards an integrated internal control framework published on 19 July 2006 (SEC(2006)1009), pursuant to Parliament's request in its resolution of 27 April 2006 on the discharge for the financial year 2004 (2),

having regard to the interim progress report of the Commission published on 7 March 2007 (COM(2007)0086), outlining progress and announcing some additional actions,

having regard to the Commission Communication of 27 February 2008 entitled ‘Report on the Commission Action Plan towards an Integrated Internal Control Framework’ (COM(2008)0110) and the Commission staff working paper annexed thereto (SEC(2008)0259),

having regard to the Commission communication of 4 June 2008 entitled ‘Synthesis of the Commission’s management achievements in 2007’ (COM(2008)0338),

having regard to the Commission's annual report to the discharge authority on internal audits carried out in 2007 (COM(2008)0499),

having regard to the Commission's annual report to the discharge authority on the follow-up to the 2006 discharge decisions (COM(2008)0629 and COM(2008)0628) and the accompanying Commission staff working papers (SEC(2008)2579 and SEC(2008)2580),

having regard to the Annual Report of the European Court of Auditors on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2007, together with the institutions’ replies (3),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A6-0022/2009),

A.

whereas under Article 274 of the EC Treaty the Commission implements the budget on its own responsibility, on the basis of the principles of sound financial management, in cooperation with the Member States,

B.

whereas the principle of effective internal control is one of the budgetary principles set out in Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (Financial Regulation) (4) following its amendment by Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1995/2006 of 13 December 2006 (5), as proposed by the Commission in the action plan towards an integrated internal control framework (the ‘Action Plan’),

C.

whereas the most effective means for the Commission to demonstrate that it is genuinely committed to ensuring transparency and sound financial management is to do all it can to support measures seeking to enhance the quality of financial management, with a view to obtaining a positive statement of assurance (DAS (6)) from the European Court of Auditors (ECA),

D.

whereas in paragraph 5 of its conclusions of 8 November 2005, the ECOFIN Council took the view that it was of fundamental importance to introduce an integrated internal control system and simplify the legislation on controls and requested ‘that the Commission assess the cost of controls by area of expenditure’,

E.

whereas to support the strategic objective of receiving a positive DAS from the ECA, the Commission adopted in January 2006 the Action Plan, drawing on recommendations of the ECA (7), Parliament's resolution of 12 April 2005 on the discharge for the financial year 2003 (8) and the ECOFIN conclusions of 8 November 2005,

F.

whereas the Action Plan addressed ‘gaps’ in the Commission's control structures at the time and identified 16 areas for action by the end of 2007, taking into account that improvement of financial management in the Union must be supported by a close monitoring of controls in the Commission and the Member States,

G.

whereas at paragraph 2.29 in Chapter 2 (concerning the Commission internal control system) of its Annual Report for 2007, the ECA points out that ‘The Commission’s summary report for 2007 provides a confident assessment of progress made in the implementation of the actions at this date, whilst indicating that the evidence of the effectiveness of the actions in terms of reducing the level of error in the underlying transactions may still be some way off’,

H.

whereas, according to the Commission's response to paragraph 2.30 of the ECA's Annual Report for 2007, ‘the implementation of the actions is a continuing process and is being pursued vigorously. The impact of the actions is necessarily posterior to their implementation over the years 2006 and 2007 and a first impact report will be made in early 2009’,

1.

Welcomes the overall progress made in the development of the Action Plan and the fact that a majority of actions have been implemented and most of the gaps identified in the Action Plan filled;

2.

Stresses that an effective integrated internal control framework as envisaged in the Commission's Action Plan will allow the Commission and the Member States to better implement the EU budget according to political objectives and Parliament's priorities;

3.

Regrets the lack of clear language, and calls on the Commission to indicate at which stage it finds itself in the process of achieving an integrated internal control framework, and when it expects the measures taken to have visible and positive effects on the legality and regularity of transactions;

4.

Takes note of the impact report adopted by the Commission on 4 February 2009 (COM(2009)0043), and will take that report into consideration in the discharge resolution for the financial year 2007;

5.

Notes the efforts made by the Commission but regrets that, so far, the Commission has not been able to present complete and reliable figures on recoveries and financial corrections due to Member States’ reporting problems; asks the Commission to solve these problems and expects it to present a detailed timetable for the development and application of a new reporting scheme;

6.

Points out that it is the impact of the actions which will form the basis of the evaluation of the success of the Action Plan through decreasing error rates and improved ratings of control systems confirmed by the ECA;

7.

Fully expects that such improvements will have a real impact on the ECA's Annual Report for 2008;

8.

Encourages the Commission to increase transparency in its impact assessment of the Action Plan and to fully supervise its implementation;

Actions 4, 10 and 10N: error index or acceptable risk of error - analysis of the existing balance between operational expenditure and the cost of the control system

9.

Regrets the fact that in two of the most important actions for this Parliament there is a degree of delay with regard to the planned calendar;

10.

Especially regrets the fact that Action 4 of the Action Plan concerning the launching of an inter-institutional initiative on the basic principles to be considered regarding the risks to be tolerated in the underlying transactions has not been yet implemented; agrees with the statement made by the ECA in its Opinion No 4/2006 (9) that even if it is a vital concept for the integrated control system, how a ‘tolerable level of risk’ is to be determined has not yet been clarified;

11.

Points out that in paragraphs 2.9 and 2.10 of its Annual Report for 2005 (10), the ECA already took the view that, with respect to the establishment of an integrated internal control framework, ‘one of the most important objectives approved by the Commission is represented by the proportionality and cost-effectiveness of controls’;

12.

Recalls, furthermore, the above-mentioned conclusions of the ECOFIN Council of 8 November 2005, that stated that ‘The Council believes, in line with the Court's opinion 2/2004, that it should reach an understanding with the European Parliament regarding the risks to be tolerated in the underlying transactions, having regard to the costs and benefits of controls for the different policy areas and the value of the expenditure concerned’;

13.

Points out that at paragraph 2.42, point (c) of its Annual Report for 2007, the ECA recommends making progress in taking forward the concept of tolerable risk, and at paragraph 1.52, point (c) in Chapter 1 (concerning the Statement of Assurance and supporting information) of that report, it states that ‘the balance between cost and residual risk for individual spending areas is of such importance that it should be approved by the political level (i.e. by the budget/discharge authorities) in the name of the citizens of the Union’;

14.

Urges the Commission to promptly adopt the promised communication on this issue, with the aim of re-launching the inter-institutional discussion on tolerable risk as already requested by Parliament in its discharge resolution of 24 April 2007 for the financial year 2005 (11) and its discharge resolution of 22 April 2008 for the financial year 2006 (12); invites the Commission to fully disclose to the public the methods being used for the determination of rates of error,

15.

Considers, therefore, that the Commission, in line with the principles of proportionality and cost efficiency (value for money) of control systems, should evaluate the relationship between, on the one hand, the resources available for each particular policy, and, on the other, the part of those resources dedicated to the control systems broken down by area of expenditure, as requested by Parliament in its discharge resolution for the financial year 2005;

16.

Reminds the Commission of the importance of carrying out the comparative analysis which alone will enable the establishment of an acceptable risk level of error, and of forwarding it to Parliament, the Council and the ECA;

17.

Believes that the cost-benefit ratio existing between the resources dedicated to control activities and the results obtained by controls should be a key element to be taken into account by the ECA;

18.

Highlights the very important observation made by the ECA at paragraph 1.52, point (d), of its Annual Report for 2007 that ‘If a scheme cannot be satisfactorily implemented at an acceptable level of cost and with tolerable risk it should be reconsidered’;

19.

Asks the Commission, with regard to Actions 10 and 10N, to present reliable information on the costs of the control systems and on possible means of simplification with the aim of finding a better balance between the need for controls and the aim of lessening the administrative burden for applicants and beneficiaries of EU funds;

20.

Recalls its own view and the view of the Court of Auditors that complicated or unclear rules and complex legal requirements negatively impact on the legality and regularity of EU spending; considers it necessary to take up the issue of simplification as an important point in the next reform of the Financial Regulation and in the future legal basis of EU spending programmes;

Actions 1, 3, 3N, 5, 10, 10a, 11N, 13 and 15: cooperation with the Member States is needed

21.

Highlights that in relation to the implementation of Actions 1, 3, 3N, 5, 10, 10a, 11N, 13, and 15, the Commission is also dependant on cooperation with the Member States; emphasises that it fully supports these actions, and therefore urges the Commission to use every available tool at its disposal to implement them fully as soon as possible;

22.

Recalls the statement made by the Commission in its above-mentioned 2008 communication (COM(2008)0110) that Actions 1, 3, 3N, 5, 8 and 13 have been completed;

23.

Points out nevertheless that so far it has been unaware of supporting documents or statements justifying such a declaration; is forced therefore to seriously question whether these measures have been completed and whether they have been implemented or have had an impact on the progress of the implementation of the Action Plan;

24.

Calls on the Court of Auditors to report in more detail on cooperation with its national counterparts and to predict when this cooperation will show positive effects;

Actions 5 and 13: promotion of the use of annual summaries and management declarations

25.

Welcomes the annual summaries of available audits and declarations at national level, presented for the first time on 15 February 2008, which are a considerable step towards the target of improving management of EU funds; regrets, however, the lack of transparency concerning these annual summaries, which the Commission had not sent to Parliament;

26.

Welcomes the provision as from 2008 of annual summaries and the assessment and declarations provided in the 2006 and 2007 Annual Activity Reports of the Directorates-General dealing with Structural Funds, but is far from considering Actions 5 and 13 as having been completed as there is a lack of information to Parliament;

27.

Regrets that Parliament has until now not received complete information from the Commission concerning the assessment and comparative analysis of the first annual summaries presented;

28.

Points out moreover that in its Annual Report for 2007, the ECA states that due to the disparity of presentation, annual summaries do not yet provide a reliable assessment of the functioning and effectiveness of the system;

Action 11N: developing a typology of error and relationship with recoveries and financial corrections

29.

Regrets the fact that, despite the considerable efforts made by the Commission, according to the ECA the Commission was unable to present complete figures or demonstrate that the figures eventually presented could be clearly reconciled with the published financial statements;

30.

Encourages the Commission to complete the implementation of this important action in order to obtain a greater degree of compliance with reporting requirements and to improve the accuracy of the data provided by Member States;

Action 8N: cooperation with the National Supreme Audit Institutions and how their work can be used to provide assurance

31.

Points out that, although not a part of the internal control framework, the independent Supreme Audit Institutions, as external auditors of national public spending, may be able to play a key role in the audit of public funds;

32.

Fully supports the cooperation started by the Commission with some of the National Supreme Audit Institutions, and encourages continued contact with such institutions with the aim of determining how their work can be used to increase assurance as regards the execution of programmes in the Member States;

33.

Welcomes the Commission's initiative to develop a structured approach to support contacts with National Supreme Audit Institutions and furthermore encourages the Commission to complete the implementation of this action in close cooperation with the ECA;

*

* *

34.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.


(1)  OJ C 107, 30.4.2004, p. 1.

(2)  OJ L 340, 6.12.2006, p. 5.

(3)  OJ C 286, 10.11.2008, p. 1.

(4)  OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.

(5)  OJ L 390, 30.12.2006, p. 1.

(6)  Abbreviation of the French term ‘Déclaration d'assurance’.

(7)  Opinion No 2/2004 (OJ C 107, 30.4.2004, p. 1) (the ‘Single Audit’ Opinion).

(8)  OJ L 196, 27.7.2005, p. 4.

(9)  OJ C 273, 9.11.2006, p. 2.

(10)  OJ C 263, 31.10.2006, p. 1.

(11)  OJ L 187, 15.7.2008, p. 25.

(12)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0133.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/21


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters

P6_TA(2009)0089

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters (2008/2180(INI))

2010/C 87 E/05

The European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission’s report on the application of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001 of 28 May 2001 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters (COM(2007)0769),

having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001 (1),

having regard to the ongoing work of the Hague Conference on the practical operation of the Hague Convention of 18 March 1970 on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters,

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A6-0058/2009),

A.

whereas Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001 has not been enforced as effectively as it might have been, and further action is therefore needed in order to improve cooperation between the Member States’ courts for the purposes of taking evidence and enhancing the efficiency of the Regulation,

B.

whereas Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001 sets out to improve, simplify and accelerate cooperation between courts on the taking of evidence in civil and commercial matters,

C.

whereas the Commission admittedly arranged for the distribution of a total of 50 000 copies of the practice guide to Member States in late 2006/early 2007, but this was done much too late, and other steps accordingly need to be taken in addition so as to enable those involved in proceedings, especially courts and practitioners, to be better informed about the Regulation,

D.

whereas the Commission finds nevertheless that the 90-day time-limit for complying with requests for the taking of evidence laid down in Article 10(1) of the Regulation is exceeded in a ‘significant number of cases’ and that ‘in some cases even more than 6 months are required’,

E.

whereas only a few Member States currently have facilities for video-conferencing, which is consequently not being sufficiently used; whereas, in addition, Member States are not doing enough to introduce modern communications technology, and nor is the Commission proposing any specific remedies on that point,

1.

Condemns the late submission of the above-mentioned Commission report, which, according to Article 23 of Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001, should have been submitted by 1 January 2007 but in fact was not submitted until 5 December 2007;

2.

Concurs with the Commission that greater efforts should be made by Member States to bring the Regulation sufficiently to the attention of judges and practitioners in the Member States in order to encourage direct court-to-court contacts, since the direct taking of evidence provided for in Article 17 of the Regulation has shown its potential to simplify and accelerate the taking of evidence, without causing any particular problems;

3.

Considers that it is essential to bear in mind that the central bodies provided for in the Regulation still have an important role to play in overseeing the work of the courts which have responsibility for dealing with requests under the Regulation and in resolving problems when they arise; points out that the European Judicial Network can help to solve problems which have not been resolved by the central bodies and that recourse to those bodies could be reduced if requesting courts were made more aware of the Regulation; takes the view that the assistance provided by the central bodies may be critical for small local courts faced with a problem relating to the taking of evidence in a cross-border context for the first time;

4.

Advocates the extensive use of information technology and video-conferencing, coupled with a secure system for sending and receiving e-mails, which should become in due course the ordinary means of transmitting requests for the taking of evidence; notes that, in their responses to a questionnaire sent out by the Hague Conference, some Member States mention problems in connection with the compatibility of video links, and considers that this should be taken up under the European e-Justice strategy;

5.

Considers that the fact that in many Member States facilities for video-conferencing are not yet available, together with the Commission’s finding that modern means of communication are ‘still used rather rarely’, confirms the wisdom of the plans for the European e-Justice strategy recently recommended by Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee; urges Member States to put more resources into installing modern communications facilities in the courts and training judges to use them, and calls on the Commission to produce specific proposals aimed at improving the current state of affairs; takes the view that the appropriate degree of EU assistance and financial support should be provided as soon as possible;

6.

Takes the view that efforts should be made in the context of the e-Justice strategy to assist courts in meeting the translation and interpreting demands posed by the taking of evidence across borders in an enlarged European Union;

7.

Notes with considerable concern the Commission’s finding that the 90-day time-limit for complying with requests for the taking of evidence, as laid down in Article 10(1) of the Regulation, is exceeded in a ‘significant number of cases’ and that ‘in some cases even more than 6 months are required’; calls on the Commission to submit specific proposals as quickly as possible on measures to remedy this problem, one option to consider being a complaints body or contact point within the European Judicial Network;

8.

Criticises the fact that, by concluding that the taking of evidence has been improved in every respect as a result of Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001, the Commission report presents an inaccurate picture of the situation; calls on the Commission, therefore, to provide practical support, inter alia in the context of the e-Justice strategy, and to make greater efforts to realise the true potential of the Regulation for improving the operation of civil justice for citizens, businesses, practitioners and judges;

9.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.


(1)  OJ L 174, 27.6.2001, p. 1.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/23


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Implementation of Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts

P6_TA(2009)0090

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on implementation of Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts (2008/2247(INI))

2010/C 87 E/06

The European Parliament,

having regard to Directive 2006/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts (1),

having regard to its resolution of 21 February 2008 on the Commission's 23rd Annual report on monitoring the application of Community law (2005) (2),

having regard to its resolution of 21 October 2008 on monitoring the application of Community law – 24th annual report from the Commission (3),

having regard to its resolution of 4 September 2007 on better lawmaking 2005: application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality – 13th report (4),

having regard to its resolution of 4 September 2007 on better regulation in the European Union (5),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6-0014/2009),

A.

whereas Parliament has repeatedly stated that there is a point to EU legislation only if it is complied with in the Member States, and whereas monitoring of the transposition and application of EU legislation by Member States must therefore be stepped up; whereas Parliament has proposed that, after the transposition deadline has expired, the rapporteur should inform Parliament of the state of play,

B.

whereas Directive 2006/43/EC (‘the Directive’) was adopted by Parliament and the Council on 17 May 2006 and the period for transposition in the Member States expired on 29 June 2008, and whereas there must be an examination as to whether transposition has proceeded correctly,

C.

whereas the ‘scoreboard’ published by the Commission, whilst identifying which articles have been implemented by whom, provides no information on the way in which implementation has proceeded or on whether national rules meet the minimum standard set by the Directive,

D.

whereas the objective of the Directive is, first, to optimise the quality of audits of annual accounts throughout the EU, thus increasing confidence in such reporting and improving the situation in the financial markets, and, second, to establish a level playing-field for the accountancy sector within the internal market,

E.

whereas implementation of the Directive in Member States must be checked by reference to this twin objective,

1.

Notes that the Directive was adopted in response to the crisis that followed the collapse of Enron; emphasises that the current financial crisis highlights the importance of high-quality accounting and auditing practices; deplores the fact that only 12 Member States have transposed the Directive in full; urges the Commission to ensure its immediate transposition and enforcement;

2.

Notes with concern that transposition of the crucial notions of ‘public-interest entity’ (6) (PIE) and ‘network’ (7) is leading to differing interpretations among Member States; stresses in this connection that for an undertaking identified as a PIE, and also for the accountant auditing that undertaking, the Directive introduces various far-reaching obligations; notes further that the Directive also introduces various additional obligations for audit firms covered by the definition of ‘network’; observes that further consideration is needed with regard to the impact of the definition of ‘network’ and the lack of legal clarity regarding the liability of firms for the actions of other firms that belong to the same network; fears in general that a patchwork of definitions will lead to legal uncertainty and high costs of compliance and will thus, ultimately, adversely affect attainment of the Directive's objective; therefore calls on the Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the implementation of the definitions and the discernible effects of their introduction, and to seek clarity regarding the long-term policy priorities for the EU in this area and the way in which these may best be achieved, in consultation with the Member States;

3.

Notes that many Member States have not yet implemented Article 41 of the Directive, under which Member States must require PIEs to set up an audit committee or comparable body; is of the opinion that this requirement is an important means of guaranteeing the independence of statutory audits of PIEs' annual accounts;

4.

Stresses that recent experience shows the need for frequent and high-quality interaction within audit committees and between independent directors, supervisory boards and auditors, and that non-executive board members should consider carefully the possibility of having meetings without executive board members being present;

5.

Concludes that certain Member States have implemented the Directive's requirement of auditor rotation within a maximum of seven years with a very short rotation period of as little as two or three years; doubts that such short rotation periods enhance the quality and continuity of statutory audits of PIEs, and points out that they hamper the auditors’ and audit firms’ sound understanding of the audited entity;

6.

Regrets that not all Member States have introduced the system of public oversight required by the Directive; notes further that, in Member States where forms of public oversight have been introduced, there are considerable differences between them; notes that public oversight under the Directive must be organised in such a way that conflicts of interest are avoided; wonders, in the light of this, whether oversight authorities directly linked to national governments meet that requirement;

7.

Considers it very important that the cooperation required under the Directive between public-oversight authorities should actually materialise, since intensive cooperation between oversight authorities fosters convergence between Member States and can prevent additional administrative burdens resulting from different national procedures and requirements;

8.

Stresses that listed subsidiaries are subject to statutory audits; recommends that national law require that parent undertakings holding such subsidiaries be subject to statutory audits performed by auditors approved in accordance with the Directive;

9.

Considers that there is a very significant lack of clarity in relation to the implementation of Article 47 of the Directive, which deals with the audit working papers; points out that, whilst Member States may allow the transfer to the competent authorities of a third country of audit working papers or other documents held by the statutory auditors or audit firms approved by them, there are legal and data-protection issues to be addressed in order to ensure that the information which EU auditors receive from their client companies is kept confidential and does not get into the public domain of third countries where such companies are listed or where the parent company is incorporated;

10.

Calls on the Commission to make a careful evaluation of all national legislation transposing the Directive, to tackle resolutely the problems referred to in paragraphs 1 to 9 and to report to Parliament on this within two years; doubts whether the chosen method of minimum harmonisation is really the right way to realise the objectives of this and other internal-market-related directives, since the many derogations allowed by the Directive will lead to further fragmentation of the accountancy market; calls on the Commission to make use of clear concepts when harmonisation is being carried out;

11.

Points out that undue delay in the approval of International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) could have an adverse effect on the regulatory environment, resulting in further fragmentation, which is contrary to the general objective of the Directive; requests the Commission, therefore, to avoid unnecessary delay in the adoption of ISAs and to launch a broad public consultation on their adoption;

12.

Takes the view that careful monitoring and verification of the correct and timely implementation of EU legislation is an essential means of achieving better application of EU law and avoiding gold-plating practices that may occur on the basis of, for example, Article 40 of the Directive, which lays down a non-exhaustive list of requirements for transparency reporting;

13.

Supports the Commission's guidance of, and close cooperation with, Member States, aimed at securing correct and timely implementation, for example by making use of transposition workshops as a forum for establishing consensus on the implementation of particular provisions of Community legislation; supports the use of correlation tables in the process of implementation as a means of achieving maximum convergence; is nevertheless of the opinion that still more has to be done to give clear guidance to Member States in the course of implementation and to steer Member States towards an unequivocal implementation of Community legislation;

14.

Strongly emphasises that any quasi-legislative measure within the scope of the Directive can only be adopted pursuant to the application of the regulatory procedure with scrutiny, accompanied where appropriate by an evaluation of its impact;

Recommendation on quality assurance

15.

Welcomes Commission Recommendation 2008/362/EC of 6 May 2008 on external quality assurance for statutory auditors and audit firms auditing public interest entities (8); subscribes to the established view that it is important to have independent external quality assurance reviews in line with the Directive's objective of enhancing the quality of audits and the credibility of published financial information; endorses, moreover, the established view that the total independence and impartiality of inspections and inspectors are of the utmost importance;

16.

Urges the Commission to promote national quality assurance structures, in close collaboration with the Member States, which ensures independent and external quality assurance for accountancy firms; stresses, in this connection, that the European legislative authority must confine itself to general framework provisions set out in the Directive and the recommendation and that it must be left to the profession to flesh out those rules;

Decision on the registration of third-country auditors

17.

Takes note of Commission Decision 2008/627/EC of 29 July 2008 concerning a transitional period for audit activities of certain third country auditors and audit entities (9); asks the Commission to communicate to Parliament its follow-up on the question of the registration of third-county auditors;

Auditors’ liability

18.

Notes that divergences between Member States’ liability regimes might lead to regulatory arbitrage and undermine the internal market, but is aware of the differing levels of exposure linked to the size of audit firms and companies with which they deal; emphasises that liability claims often come from third countries in which such litigation is largely driven by contingency-fee arrangements; is reluctant to welcome such a litigation culture into the European Union and asks for a more fundamental resolution to the perverse effects of such fee-driven practices;

19.

Notes Commission Recommendation 2008/473/EC of 5 June 2008 concerning the limitation of the civil liability of statutory auditors and audit firms (10), which calls on Member States to limit the liability of accountants, with due regard for their own national legislation and circumstances; further notes the recommendation's objective of bolstering the level playing-field for undertakings and accountancy firms through greater convergence between Member States in this area; underlines that the objective of limiting the liability of auditors and audit firms proposed by the Commission recommendation must not violate the legal principles governing civil liability in certain Member States, such as the principle of the right to compensation for victims; underlines that, within the context of the current economic and financial crisis, the recommendation should not call into question the quality of the statutory audit or the confidence placed in the function of statutory audits; calls on the Commission to inform Parliament no later than in 2010 about the impact of, and the follow-up to, the recommendation, the important issue in this connection being, in particular, whether and to what extent, in accordance with the Directive’s objective, the recommendation is leading to greater convergence between Member States; emphasises that, in the event that further measures prove necessary, the Commission must undertake an impact study assessing the possible effects of limitation of civil liability of auditors and audit firms on the quality of audits, financial security and the concentration on the audit market;

Consultation on ownership rules

20.

Welcomes the consultation initiated by the Commission on ownership rights in accountancy firms and looks forward with interest to the responses of stakeholders;

*

* *

21.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.


(1)  OJ L 157, 9.6.2006, p. 87.

(2)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0060.

(3)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0494.

(4)  OJ C 187 E, 24.7.2008, p. 67.

(5)  OJ C 187 E, 24.7.2008, p. 60.

(6)  Article 2(13) of the Directive.

(7)  Article 2(7) of the Directive.

(8)  OJ L 120, 7.5.2008, p. 20.

(9)  OJ L 202, 31.7.2008, p. 70.

(10)  OJ L 162, 21.6.2008, p. 39.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/27


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Equal treatment and access for men and women in the performing arts

P6_TA(2009)0091

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on equality of treatment and access for men and women in the performing arts (2008/2182(INI))

2010/C 87 E/07

The European Parliament,

having regard to Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 amending Council Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions (1),

having regard to Council Directive 97/80/EC of 15 December 1997 on the burden of proof in cases of discrimination based on sex (2),

having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

having regard to its resolutions of 7 June 2007 on the Social status of artists (3) and of 3 September 2008 on Equality between women and men - 2008 (4),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0003/2009),

A.

whereas inequalities in career prospects and opportunities between women and men in the performing arts are very much present and persistent,

B.

whereas the mechanisms which produce these gender inequalities should be seriously analysed,

C.

whereas the principle of equality between men and women should apply to all players in the performing arts sector, in all disciplines, all types of structure (production, broadcasting and teaching) and all activities (artistic, technical and administrative),

D.

whereas men and women are not proportionally represented in the various jobs in the performing arts, and whereas this initial form of inequality is compounded by disparities in work and employment conditions and income,

E.

whereas inequalities in access to decision-making posts, means of production and broadcast networks are apparent to varying degrees in all disciplines of the performing arts,

F.

whereas the objective of equality in jobs in the performing arts presupposes the systematic opening-up of all jobs to both men and women,

G.

whereas talent alone is not sufficient for the artistic quality of a performance or the success of a professional career, and whereas taking better account of the representation of men and women in jobs in the performing arts would have the effect of reinvigorating the sector,

H.

whereas, therefore, the current instances of segregation that still persist in the performing arts should be changed, not only by modernising and democratising the sector, but also by setting realistic equality goals which promote social justice,

I.

whereas the existing inequalities leave skills and talents unexploited and are damaging to the artistic dynamism, influence and economic development of the sector,

J.

whereas persistent prejudices too often lead to discriminatory behaviour towards women in selection and appointment procedures and in work relations; whereas women often receive lower remuneration than men even if they have higher educational qualifications, a stronger interest in training and stronger networks,

K.

whereas the obstacles to gender equality in this sector are particularly deep rooted and require specific steps to be taken to reduce inequalities, taking account also of the leverage effect which that may have on society as a whole,

L.

whereas there are great shortcomings as regards social protection for both men and women active in the arts and whereas income, particularly that of women, is adversely affected by this,

1.

Underlines the scale and persistence of the inequalities between men and women in the performing arts and the impact that the unequal way in which the sector is organised can have on society as a whole, given the particular nature of its activities;

2.

Underlines the vital need to promote and encourage access for women to all the artistic professions where they are still in the minority;

3.

Notes that the proportion of women employed in artistic professions and in the official culture industry is only very small and that women are under-represented in positions of responsibility in cultural institutions and in academies and universities;

4.

Recognises the need to take specific action in this sector to analyse the mechanisms and behaviour that produce these inequalities;

5.

Notes that behaviour is transformed only when the two sexes work alongside each other, through the input of points of view, sensibilities, methods and interests which complement each other;

6.

Emphasises the need to promote access for women to all the artistic professions and all jobs in the performing arts where they are in the minority and encourages the Member States to remove all obstacles to women accessing top positions in cultural institutions and in academies and universities;

7.

Stresses that discrimination against women holds back the development of the cultural sector by depriving it of talent and skills and notes that talent requires contact with the public in order to achieve recognition;

8.

Calls for measures to be taken to increase the presence of women on the directors’ boards of institutions, in particular by promoting equality within cultural undertakings and institutions and professional organisations;

9.

Calls on the actors in the field of culture to increase the presence of female creators and their works in programming, collections, publishing and consultation;

10.

Notes that the progress achieved in gender equality will progressively allow the mixing of sexes in work teams, programme planning and professional meetings, which today often function according to a system of separation of the sexes which is difficult to reconcile with the demands of our society;

11.

Stresses the importance of ensuring whenever possible that applications are anonymous and emphasises the need to continue using screened-off auditions for recruiting orchestra musicians, which has helped women join orchestras;

12.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to consider ensuring, without delay and as a first realistic step in the fight against inequality in the performing arts, that at least a third of the people in all branches in the sector are of the minority sex;

13.

Encourages the Member States:

(a)

to consider together with their cultural institutions how best to understand the mechanisms which produce inequalities so as to avoid as far as possible any discrimination on the basis of sex;

(b)

to remove all obstacles to women accessing top positions in the most prestigious cultural institutions and organisations;

(c)

to introduce to the sector new ways of organising work, delegation of responsibilities and time management which take into account the personal-life constraints of women and men;

(d)

to recognise that in this sector, where untypical hours, high mobility and job insecurity are the norm and are more destabilising for women, collective solutions should be found for providing childcare (e.g. opening of crèches in cultural undertakings with hours adapted to rehearsal and performance times);

14.

Reminds the cultural institutions of the vital need to translate into fact the democratic notion that equal work by men and women must be matched by identical pay, which, in the arts as in many other sectors, is still not the case;

15.

Encourages the Member States to produce comparative analyses of the current situation in the performing arts in the various countries of the Union, to draw up statistics in order to facilitate the design and implementation of common policies and to ensure that the progress achieved can be compared and measured;

16.

Calls on the Member States to improve the social situation of persons active in the arts and culture sector, taking account of the various employment relations involved, and to ensure better social protection;

17.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission and to the parliaments of the Member States.


(1)  OJ L 269, 5.10.2002, p. 15.

(2)  OJ L 14, 20.1.1998, p. 6.

(3)  OJ C 125 E, 22.5.2008, p. 223.

(4)  Texts adopted on that date, P6_TA(2008)0399.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/30


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Integrity of online gambling

P6_TA(2009)0097

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the integrity of online gambling (2008/2215(INI))

2010/C 87 E/08

The European Parliament,

having regard to Article 49 of the EC Treaty,

having regard to the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality annexed to the EC Treaty,

having regard to the case-law developed by the Court of Justice of the European Communities (1),

having regard to Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market (2) (Services Directive),

having regard to Directive 2007/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2007 amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities (3) (Directive on audiovisual media services),

having regard to Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce) (4),

having regard to Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing (5),

having regard to its resolution of 8 May 2008 on the White Paper on Sport (6),

having regard to the Oral Question by the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection to the Commission of 16 October 2006 on gambling and sports betting in the Internal Market and to the following debate in the Committee on the Internal Market (O-0118/2006) and Consumer Protection on 14 November 2006, and to the answer given by the Member of the Commission,

having regard to the briefing paper on Online gambling, focusing on integrity and a code of conduct for gambling, prepared for the European Parliament by Europe Economics Research Ltd,

having regard to the study of Gambling Services in the Internal Market of the European Union dated 14 June 2006, prepared for the Commission by the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law (SICL),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A6-0064/2009),

A.

whereas, at present, online gambling, worth EUR 2 to 3 billion in gross gaming revenues in 2004, accounts for roughly 5 % of the total gambling market in the EU, as noted by the above-mentioned study by SICL, and rapid growth seems inevitable,

B.

whereas the revenue generated by government and government-authorised gambling activities is by far the most important source of income for sports organisations in many Member States,

C.

whereas gambling activities, including online gambling, have traditionally been strictly regulated in all Member States on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity, in order to protect consumers against addiction and fraud, to prevent money-laundering and other financial crimes, as well as match-fixing, and to preserve public order; whereas the European Court of Justice accepts restrictions of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services in the light of such general interest objectives, if proportionate and non-discriminatory,

D.

whereas all Member States have differentiated such restrictions according to the type of gambling service concerned, such as casino games, sports betting, lotteries or betting on horse-races; whereas the majority of Member States prohibit the operation - including by local operators - of online casino games, and a significant number prohibit in the same way the operation of online sports betting and online lotteries,

E.

whereas gambling activities were excluded from the scope of Directives 2006/123/EC, 2007/65/EC and 2000/31/EC, and Parliament voiced its concern at a possible deregulation of gambling in its above-mentioned resolution on the White Paper on Sport,

F.

whereas Member States have regulated their traditional gambling markets in order to protect consumers against addiction, fraud, money-laundering and match-fixing; whereas these policy objectives are more difficult to achieve in the online gambling sector,

G.

whereas the Commission has launched infringement proceedings against ten Member States in order to verify whether national measures limiting the cross-border supply of online gambling services, mainly sports betting, are compatible with Community law; whereas, as the Commission has highlighted, these proceedings do not touch upon the existence of monopolies or national lotteries as such, nor do they have any implication for the liberalisation of gambling markets in general,

H.

whereas an increasing number of preliminary questions on gambling-related cases are being referred to the European Court of Justice, which clearly demonstrates a lack of clarity on the interpretation and application of Community law with respect to gambling,

I.

whereas integrity in the context of this resolution on online gambling means a commitment to preventing not only fraud and crime but also problem gambling and under-age gambling by compliance with consumer protection and criminal laws and by protecting sporting competitions from any undue influence associated with sports betting,

J.

whereas online gambling combines several risk factors related to problem gambling, such as, among others, easy access to gambling, the availability of a variety of games and fewer social constraints (7),

K.

whereas sports betting activities and other online games have developed rapidly and in an uncontrolled manner (particularly cross-border over the internet), and the ever present threat of match-fixing and the phenomenon of ‘lay bets’ on specific events in sports matches makes sports particularly vulnerable to illegal betting behaviour,

A transparent sector that safeguards the public and consumer interests

1.

Highlights that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity and the case law of the European Court of Justice, Member States have an interest and right to regulate and control their gambling markets in accordance with their traditions and cultures in order to protect consumers against addiction, fraud, money-laundering and match-fixing in sports, as well as to protect the culturally-built funding structures which finance sports activities and other social causes in the Member States; highlights that all other stakeholders as well have an interest in a well-monitored and regulated gambling market; underlines that online gambling operators must comply with the legislation of the Member State in which they provide their services and the consumer resides;

2.

Stresses that gambling services are to be considered as an economic activity of a very special nature due to the social and public order and health care aspects linked to it, where competition will not lead to a better allocation of resources, which is the reason why gambling requires a multi-pillar approach; emphasises that a pure Internal Market approach is not appropriate in this highly sensitive area, and requests the Commission to pay particular attention to the views of the European Court of Justice regarding this matter;

3.

Endorses the work that has started in the Council under the French Presidency addressing issues in the field of online and traditional gambling and betting; calls on the Council to continue holding formal discussions about a potential political solution as to how to define and tackle problems arising from online gambling, and calls on the Commission to support this process and to carry out studies and make appropriate proposals considered desirable by the Council for the attainment of common objectives in the area of online gambling;

4.

Calls on the Member States to cooperate closely in order to solve the social and public order problems arising from cross-border online gambling, such as gambling addiction and misuse of personal data or credit cards; calls on the EU institutions to cooperate closely with the Member States in the fight against all unauthorised or illegal online gambling services offered and to protect consumers and prevent fraud; stresses the need for a common position on how to do this;

5.

Stresses that regulators and operators should closely cooperate with other stakeholders operating in the field of online gambling, e.g. gambling operators, regulators, consumer organisations, sports organisations, industry associations and the media, which share a joint responsibility for the integrity of online gambling and for informing consumers of the possible negative consequences of online gambling;

Tackling fraud and other forms of criminal behaviour

6.

Notes that criminal activities, such as money-laundering, and black economies can be associated with gambling activities and impact on the integrity of sports events; considers that the threat to the integrity of sport and sporting competitions impacts heavily on grassroots participation, a key contributor to public health and social integration; is of the opinion that, if a sport is perceived as the subject of manipulation for the financial gain of players, officials or third parties rather than played according to its values, rules and for the enjoyment of its fans, this could result in a loss of public trust;

7.

Is of the opinion that the growth of online gambling provides increased opportunities for corrupt practices such as fraud, match-fixing, illegal betting cartels and money-laundering, as online games can be set up and dismantled very rapidly and as a result of the proliferation of offshore operators; calls on the Commission, Europol and other national and international institutions to closely monitor and report on findings in this area;

8.

Considers that the protection of the integrity of sports events and competitions requires cooperation between sports rights owners, online betting operators and public authorities at national as well as EU and international level;

9.

Calls on the Member States to ensure that sports competition organisers, betting operators and regulators cooperate on measures to tackle the risks related to illegal betting behaviour and match-fixing in sport and explore the establishment of a workable, equitable and sustainable regulatory framework to protect the integrity of sports;

10.

Highlights that sports bets are a form of commercial exploitation of sporting competitions, and recommends that Member States protect sporting competitions from any unauthorised commercial use, notably by recognition of a sport organisers right, and put in place arrangements to ensure fair financial returns for the benefit of all levels of professional and amateur sport; calls on the Commission to examine whether it is possible to give competition organisers an intellectual property right (some sort of portrait right  (8)) over their competitions;

Prevention of consumer detriment

11.

Considers that the potential omnipresent opportunity provided by the internet to gamble online in privacy, with immediate results and with the possibility of gambling for large sums of money, creates new potential for gambling addiction; notes, however, that the full impact on consumers of the specific forms of gambling services offered online is not yet known and should be researched in a more detail;

12.

Draws attention to the growing concern about young people’s ability to access online gambling opportunities, both legally and illegally, and stresses the need to have more effective age checks and to prevent underage gamblers from playing free demos on websites;

13.

Points out that young people in particular may have trouble differentiating between the concepts of luck, fate, chance and probability; urges Member States to address the key risk factors which may increase the likelihood of a (young) person developing a gambling problem, and to find the tools to target those factors;

14.

Is concerned by the increasing cross-over between interactive television, mobile phones and internet sites in offering remote or online gambling games, particularly those aimed at minors; considers that this development will pose new regulatory and social protection challenges;

15.

Is of the opinion that online gambling is likely to give rise to risks to consumers and that Member States may therefore legitimately restrict the freedom to provide online gambling services in order to protect consumers;

16.

Stresses that parents have a responsibility to prevent under-age gambling and gambling addiction by minors;

17.

At the same time, calls on Member States to allocate adequate funding for research into, and the prevention and treatment of, problems relating to online gambling;

18.

Considers that profits from gambling should be used for the benefit of society, including rolling funding for education, health, professional and amateur sport and culture;

19.

Supports the development of standards for online gambling regarding age limits, a ban on credit and bonus schemes to protect vulnerable gamblers, information about the possible consequences of gambling, information about where to obtain help in case of addiction, the potential addictiveness of certain games, and so on;

20.

Calls on all stakeholders to address the risk of social isolation caused by online gambling addiction;

21.

Considers that self-regulation regarding the advertising, promotion and provision of online games is not sufficiently effective and therefore emphasises the need for both regulation and cooperation between the industry and the authorities;

22.

Urges Member States to cooperate at EU level to take measures against any aggressive advertising or marketing by any public or private operator of online gambling, including free demonstration games, to protect in particular gamblers and vulnerable consumers such as children and young people;

23.

Suggests examining the possibility of introducing a maximum amount that a person can use for gambling activities per month, or of obliging online gambling operators to make use of prepaid cards for online gambling to be sold in shops;

Code of Conduct

24.

Notes that a Code of Conduct may still be a useful supplementary tool for achieving some public (and private) objectives and to take account of technological developments, changes in consumer preferences or developments in market structures;

25.

Stresses that a Code of Conduct ultimately remains an industry-driven, self-regulatory approach and can therefore only serve as an addition to, not a replacement of, legislation;

26.

Also stresses that the effectiveness of a Code of Conduct will heavily depend on its recognition by national regulators and consumers, as well as on its enforcement;

Monitoring and research

27.

Calls on the Member States to document the extent and growth of their online gambling markets, as well as the challenges which arise from online gambling;

28.

Calls on the Commission to initiate research on online gambling and the risk of developing a gambling addiction, for example how advertising influences gambling addiction, whether it is possible to create a common European categorisation of games according to addictive potential, and possible preventive and curative measures;

29.

Calls on the Commission to examine in particular the role of advertising and marketing (including free online demonstration games) in encouraging, directly or implicitly, under-age young people to gamble;

30.

Calls on the Commission, Europol and the national authorities to collect and share information about the extent of fraud and other criminal behaviour in the online gambling sector, e.g. amongst actors involved in the sector;

31.

Calls on the Commission to study, in close cooperation with national governments, the economic and non-economic effects of the provision of cross-border gambling services in relation to integrity, social responsibility, consumer protection and matters relating to taxation;

32.

Stresses the importance for the Member State of the residence of the consumer to be able to effectively control, limit and supervise gambling services provided on its territory;

33.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to clarify the place of taxation of online gambling activities;

*

* *

34.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission.


(1)  Schindler 1994 (C-275/92), Läärä 1999 (C-124/97), Zenatti 1999 (C-67/98), Anomar 2003 (C-6/01), Gambelli 2003 (C-243/01), Lindman 2003 (C-42/02), Placanica 2007 (C-338/04), Unibet 2007 (C-432/05), UNIRE 2007 (C-260/04).

(2)  OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36.

(3)  OJ L 332, 18.12.2007, p. 27.

(4)  OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.

(5)  OJ L 309, 25.11.2005, p. 15.

(6)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0198.

(7)  Opinion of Advocate General Bot of 14 October 2008 in Case C-42/07; the above-mentioned study by SICL at p. 1450; Professor Gill Valentine, Literature review of children and young people's gambling (Commissioned by the UK Gambling Commission), September 2008.

(8)  Portretrecht.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/35


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Ensuring food quality, including harmonisation or mutual recognition of standards

P6_TA(2009)0098

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on ensuring food quality, including harmonisation or mutual recognition of standards (2008/2220(INI))

2010/C 87 E/09

The European Parliament,

having regard to Article 33 of the EC Treaty,

having regard to the Commission’s Green Paper of 15 October 2008 on agricultural product quality: product standards, farming requirements and quality schemes (COM(2008)0641),

having regard to its resolution of 9 October 1998 on quality policy for agricultural products and agri-foodstuffs (1),

having regard to the Commission working document of October 2008 on food quality certification schemes,

having regard to the health check for the common agricultural policy (CAP),

having regard to the mandate issued by the European Council to the Commission for the negotiations in the field of agriculture, as laid down in the Commission’s Proposal for Modalities in the WTO Agriculture Negotiations of January 2003 (2),

having regard to the conference organised by the Commission in Brussels on 5 and 6 February 2007 on ‘Food Quality Certification – Adding Value to Farm Produce’,

having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers (COM(2008)0040),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A6-0088/2009),

A.

whereas the European Union has the highest quality and standards for food products in the world,

B.

whereas these high standards are demanded by EU consumers and represent a means of maximising high added value,

C.

whereas there is ever-increasing consumer interest not only in food safety but also in the origins and production methods of food products; whereas the European Union has already responded to this trend by introducing four food quality and origin marks, namely Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) and Organic Farming,

D.

whereas European quality products constitute a living cultural and gastronomic heritage for the European Union, and are an essential component of economic and social activity in many EU regions, bolstering activities directly linked to local realities, especially in rural areas,

E.

whereas consumers associate certification schemes with a guarantee of higher quality,

F.

whereas the European Union’s specific quality systems offer a specific competitive advantage for EU products,

G.

whereas the big distributors now dominate EU food markets and are imposing listing fees, commercial entry charges or considerable and unjustified contributions to promotion expenses, all of these being elements which affect small producers’ chances of reaching a wide public,

H.

whereas new technologies can be employed for providing detailed information on the origins and characteristics of agricultural and food products,

I.

whereas counterfeiting causes damage to both producers and end-consumers,

1.

Welcomes the reflection process launched by the Commission on the Green Paper, and supports the criterion of promoting the quality of EU agricultural products while not generating additional costs or burdens for producers;

2.

Believes that ensuring conditions of fair competition for strategic goods such as agricultural and food products should be a major EU objective of public interest; considers it vital that there should also be conditions of fair competition for imported products, which tend not to meet standards comparable to those governing Community products; believes that the EU’s quality standards applicable to third-country products having access to the internal market also need to be laid down on the basis of agreement in the World Trade Organisation (WTO);

3.

Considers it necessary to step up controls and coordination among the various authorities to ensure that imported food products meet EU environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards; notes the conclusions of the Agriculture Council of 19 December 2008 concerning the safety of imported agri-food products and compliance with Community standards, but points to the lack of resolute political will, in those conclusions, to strengthen Community controls in third countries;

4.

Stresses that quality policy cannot be treated separately from the issue of the future of the CAP or from such challenges as climate change, the need to preserve biodiversity, energy supply and water resource management;

5.

Believes that, in a context of generally high raw material prices, incentives to increase production should not be used as a pretext for reducing standards;

6.

Reaffirms that the goal of higher food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection standards should be that of attaining a high level of product quality offering a strong competitive advantage to agricultural producers, and that agricultural producers must also be able to earn enough to cover the costs generated by EU food safety, animal welfare and environmental requirements; believes that, should the competitive advantage offered to agricultural producers not be sufficient to enable them to cover those costs, a key role needs to be played here by CAP funding, which farmers in Europe should use for ensuring safety, animal welfare and environmental protection in agriculture;

7.

Believes that EU quality policy should be closely linked to the post-2013 reform of the CAP; is of the view that the European Union’s role in this policy should be supportive (including financial support) with a view to obtaining high-quality agricultural and food production in Europe; stresses that more support should be given to producers’ organisations, particularly with a view to not disadvantaging small producers;

8.

Points out that the European Union has undertaken, in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, to carry out measures to conserve genetic resources; calls, therefore, on the Commission to create specific sales promotion programmes to encourage the use of plant varieties threatened with genetic erosion; stresses that this is intended to make it more attractive for farmers and horticulturalists to grow varieties listed as plant genetic resources, and that similar sales promotion programmes should be created for endangered breeds of farm animals;

9.

Recalls that the ongoing liberalisation of world agricultural markets is exposing EU producers to direct international competition, and that any additional measures that have to be complied with may be detrimental to competition but may also play to the advantage of EU farmers if they are effectively able to distinguish their products in the market place and gain premiums in return; recalls also that EU farmers can turn consumer demands to their advantage by providing consumers with locally produced high-quality products, higher animal welfare and environmental standards, among others;

10.

Emphasises that in the WTO negotiations the Commission must seek to secure an agreement on the ‘non-trade concerns’ which ensures that as many imported products as possible meet the same requirements as those imposed on EU farmers, so that the quality of agricultural products which meet EU requirements in the areas of food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection offers agricultural producers a strong competitive advantage;

11.

Is concerned at the influence of the big retail chains on the general quality level of EU food products, as well as at the trend on those markets characterised by a high levels of concentration of distribution towards standardisation and reduction of variety of agricultural and food products, in the wake of the declining presence of traditional products and a greater stress on processed products; suggests that the Commission take note of the need to regulate the reverse tendering practices imposed by a small number of bulk buyers, in view of their disastrous consequences for quality products;

Requirements concerning production and marketing standards

12.

Is concerned at the complexity of the EU system of basic standards and at the multiplicity of rules which farmers in the European Union have to comply with; favours a simplified system and calls for each new rule to be assessed in accordance with the criteria of suitability, necessity and proportionality;

13.

Calls for further simplification of marketing standards by clarifying the main criteria to be applied; calls for the development of EU guidelines on the use of general reserved terms, such as ‘low in sugar’, ‘low carbon’, ‘dietary’ and ‘natural’, in order to avoid misleading practices;

14.

Is concerned at the fact that the majority of EU consumers are not sufficiently well-informed concerning the food chain, especially as regards products’ and raw materials’ origins; advocates mandatory indication of place of production of primary products based on a country of origin label, reflecting consumer desire to know more about the origins of the product they are buying; believes such a system should also apply to processed food products and should provide information on the origins of the main ingredients and raw materials, specifying their place of origin as well as the place of final processing;

15.

Considers the Australian model to be an excellent example for such a system of labelling of the country of origin, while bearing in mind the specific characteristics of the European Union’s various production sectors, in its defining of various different levels such as ‘produced in’ (for food products produced locally with local ingredients), ‘made in’ (for food products which have undergone substantial processing locally), or ‘made in country X using local or imported ingredients’; recalls that similar labelling systems are used by other major trading partners such as the US and New Zealand;

16.

Considers that, provided food safety requirements are complied with, marketing standards should not have the effect of blocking market access for products on grounds of their appearance, shape or size;

17.

Takes the view that the use of the general EU quality label, bearing the words ‘produced in the European Union’, must ultimately ensure that EU products stand out on the market, on the basis of the high quality standards governing their production;

18.

Considers that the optional reserved terms should be promoted as an alternative to compulsory marketing standards; considers, however, that the introduction of these uniform definitions satisfying all interested parties may encounter difficulties, bearing in mind the differences in dietary habits and traditions, with an increase in the amount of consumer information provided and the need to develop a system to monitor the use of these terms;

19.

Advocates taking measures to simplify the EU rules, without this resulting in their dismantling, and to limit the scope for self-regulation; believes that common marketing standards are necessary and can be established in a more efficient manner; considers, in this connection, that joint regulation should be promoted as the usual means of adopting Community legislation in the field; calls for municipal authorities, food industry representatives and farmers’ representatives to be involved in the process;

Specific quality systems in the European Union

20.

Underlines that food quality systems should provide information and offer a guarantee for consumers of the authenticity of local ingredients and production techniques; considers, therefore, that such schemes must be implemented and operated with reinforced controls and traceability systems;

21.

Believes that there needs to be a more transparent labelling system enjoying broad consumer recognition, and that, in the interests of transparent labelling of origin, the provenance of essential product-defining agricultural ingredients should be shown both on EU products and on those imported from third countries;

22.

Considers that the need to ensure the exclusive use of authentic PDO products as raw materials applies only where protected nomenclature is used for labelling and advertising a processed product; points out that this prevents consumers from being misled on the one hand, and stimulates demand for PDO products on the other;

23.

Advocates the adoption of rules concerning the use of the terms ‘mountain’ and ‘island’ given the significant resulting added value for agricultural products and foodstuffs from these less-favoured areas; believes that use of the terms ‘mountain’ and ‘island’ must be accompanied by compulsory indication of the country of origin of the product;

24.

Points out in this connection that, for the average consumer, the difference between PDO and PGI is not clear, and that an information campaign is needed to make consumers aware of that difference;

25.

Opposes the adoption of stricter assessment criteria, such as exportability and sustainability; points out that there are a number of examples of products which, while not exportable, are of major importance in shaping the local economy and ensuring continued social cohesion;

26.

Stresses that designations of origin constitute a crucial part of the European heritage which needs to be preserved because of its crucial economic power and because it has a key socio-economic impact on many EU regions; believes that they offer a guarantee of quality, which must be reinforced, particularly by stricter control over the management of designations of origin by the applicant groups representing them; considers that they help consumers in making their choice from the range of goods on offer;

27.

Considers that there is a need to better explain the differences between trademarks and designation of origin and to take measures to enable the existing Community rules preventing registration of a trademark containing or referring to PDOs/PGIs by operators who do not represent the producer organisations of those PDOs/PGIs to be applied in practice; considers it vitally important to launch promotional campaigns, with their own budgets, to inform consumers on the benefits of those public sector certification systems;

28.

Believes that, in the interests of preserving quality and maintaining the reputation of the geographical indications, producers of products bearing geographical indications should have instruments at their disposal to enable them to manage the volumes produced in a proper manner;

29.

Considers that, where a product with a PGI is used in a compound cooked product and the characteristics of the PGI product are altered, the protecting bodies or competent authorities must be allowed to conduct specific checks aimed at ascertaining whether or not the characteristics of the PGI product have been altered excessively;

30.

Advocates greater protection for registered nomenclature, in particular at certain stages of packaging and marketing outside the production area wherever there is a danger of such nomenclature being improperly used; calls for the Community rules prohibiting the registration of marks with a designation similar to that of a PDO or PGI that has already been registered to be enforced;

31.

Advocates the introduction of common rules to enable producers of products bearing geographical indications to determine the conditions for applying those indications, also in relation to their use in the designation of processed products;

32.

Favours simplifying the procedure for registering designations of origin and reducing the time required for obtaining them;

33.

Stresses that the degree of protection of designations of origin varies between Member States; advocates legislative and procedural harmonisation in this field, especially for the rules on ex officio protection;

34.

Believes that the international protection of designations of origin should be strengthened; calls on the Commission to step up its efforts, particularly at political level, to bring about an improvement in PGI protection in the course of the WTO talks (either by extending the protection under Article 23 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to all products, or by establishing a multilateral register of PGIs), and also in the accession negotiations for new member countries joining the WTO and bilateral agreements currently being negotiated;

35.

Takes the view that both exporting and non-exporting producers should be covered by that international protection on the part of the EU, which might differ on the basis of the risk of the actual counterfeiting of products, in such a way that products at high risk of counterfeiting, and which are exported, enjoy international protection at the WTO, while for products running a more moderate risk of counterfeiting, on markets at local level, a simplified procedure could be proposed, which, once recognised by the Member States, shall be notified to the Commission (comparable to the level of the current temporary protection) and enjoy Community legal protection;

36.

Points out that certain nomenclatures are being systematically usurped on the territory of third countries, thereby misleading consumers and undermining the reputation of authentic products; points out that measures to ensure the protection of a nomenclature in a third country is a particularly time-consuming process which cannot easily be achieved by isolated producer groups given that specific protection arrangements and procedures exist in each country; urges the Commission to play an advisory role, providing producer groups with know-how and legal support regarding the conclusion of agreements with third countries;

37.

Takes the view that Community and national checks are essential with regard to protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications, and advocates severe penalties to deter unauthorised use of those instruments, in such a way that Member States are required to apply these automatically in the event of counterfeiting or imitation of protected designations; suggests bringing forward a specific clause in Article 13 of Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006 of 20 March 2006 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs (3) in that respect; favours simplifying the procedures for obtaining PDOs, as well as stringent checks by Member State authorities when certifying that all stages of the production process have taken placed in the geographical area concerned;

38.

Considers that market monitoring for the enforcement of all PDO and PGI provisions will increase administrative costs for the Member States but will greatly contribute to more effective protection; favours Community technical assistance for monitoring by the Member States so as to ensure that PDO and PGI protection arrangements are implemented as uniformly as possible on the territory of the EU;

39.

Advocates further action to disseminate information on these systems and popularise them, with Community financial support, both within the internal market and in third countries; believes that the Community cofinancing rate for EU information and promotion programmes on quality EU products needs to be increased; hopes that the Commission will continue to promote the concept of PGI with non-member States, particularly by undertaking more technical assistance missions in conjunction with PGI producer groups;

40.

Suggests setting up a European Agency for Product Quality, which would work closely with the European Food Safety Authority and the Commission’s units responsible for food quality, and which would also adjudicate on the increasing number of requests from third countries in relation to PDO, PGI and traditional speciality guaranteed products;

41.

Stresses the importance for consumer choice of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on genetically modified food and feed (4); calls on the Commission to submit a legislative proposal whereby a labelling requirement would also be introduced for animal products such as milk, meat and eggs produced by feeding animals with genetically modified feed;

42.

Favours preserving and simplifying the TSG system; expresses disappointment at the performance of this instrument, under which so far only a small number of TSGs have been registered (20, with 30 applications pending); stresses that the register of TSGs mentioned second in Article 3(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 509/2006 of 20 March 2006 on agricultural products and foodstuffs as traditional specialities guaranteed (5) – the register in which the name of the product or foodstuff is not reserved to the producers – should be abolished since this weakens TSG protection; recalls that the TSG system remains a useful instrument for protection of the networks and that it offers substantial room for development provided certain conditions are met;

43.

Considers the definition of ‘traditional’ products contained in Regulation (EC) No 509/2006 to be inadequate; considers that association of a traditional product with the country in which the tradition exists or the exclusive use of the designation by producers complying with traditional requirements will make TSG status more attractive;

44.

Believes that organic farming offers EU farmers a major growth opportunity and that a programme of measures should be launched to enhance the credibility of the EU logo; notes, however, that the Community regulation on the subject lays down a single standard, even though the Member States apply the certification procedure differently, some of them choosing to delegate expensive inspection tasks to inspection authorities and others to state-accredited bodies; notes that the certification procedure varies between Member States and is expensive; calls for the harmonisation of legislation concerning upper detection limits of banned pesticides in organic products; supports, in principle, the proposal for an EU organic label;

45.

Takes the view that greater standardisation is needed in the typology of control and certification bodies and procedures for ecological products, so that consumers are provided with an assurance of safety and reliability in the form of a new EU logo for ecological agriculture, guaranteeing identical production, control and certification criteria at EU level and helping to resolve problems and further promote the internal market in ecological products;

46.

Considers that the appearance of non-organic products labelled in such a way as to suggest that they are products of organic farming may harm the development of a single EU market in organic products, expresses concern in this connection at attempts to extend the scope of the Ecolabel to food products not produced in accordance with organic farming principles;

47.

Advocates the compulsory indication of country of origin in the case of fresh and processed organic products imported from third countries independently of whether they bear EU organic production certification;

48.

Considers that, in order to improve the functioning of the internal market in organic products, it will be necessary to:

register the country of origin in the case of fresh and processed organic products imported from third countries independently of whether the EU organic product logo is used,

enhance the credibility of EU logo by means of a programme to promote organic products,

establish upper detection limits for banned pesticides in organic agricultural products,

examine the question of dual certification required in many cases by major distributors, since this is resulting in a shortage of organic products on the EU market,

the designation of non-agricultural products referred to in connection with organic production methods must be distinct from that of organic agricultural products;

49.

Welcomes the creation at Member State level of offices for traditional and organic products; believes that every Member State should have bodies, whether public or private, that are universally recognised by producers and consumers for purposes of promoting and validating local organic and quality production;

50.

Recognises that consumers have ever growing demands concerning the quality of food and food products, not only in terms of safety, but also in terms of ethical concerns, such as environmental sustainability, animal welfare protection and genetically modified organisms (GMO) technologies; calls on the Commission to provide criteria for quality initiatives such as voluntary GMO-free labelling schemes which will provide consumers with a clear choice;

51.

Considers it necessary to promote environment-friendly production systems; regrets, therefore, the lack of Community rules on integrated production, enabling the efforts of EU producers to be highlighted, by means of suitable promotion and marketing campaigns designed to publicise the added value of those types of production;

Certification systems

52.

Takes the view that EU rules on the harmonisation of standards are unnecessary; considers that there is no need to introduce new certification schemes for foodstuffs at EU level, as this would undermine existing schemes and mislead consumers;

53.

Stresses that the development of quality marks, as well as the related communication activities, must not result in more red tape for producers; believes, therefore, that producers should be able to take the initiative regarding the use of such marks, and that the intervention of Community bodies should be confined to ensuring the protection of those marks with a view to guaranteeing producers a fair price for their efforts and protecting the consumer from counterfeiting or other forms of fraud;

54.

Stresses that existing certification systems, as well as ensuring compliance with legal rules by close monitoring, should also guarantee other important food safety factors such as traceability; stresses that certification requirements should reflect the demands of society and that there should therefore be state support for the costs incurred by farmers; advocates the promotion of more active cooperation by producers’ associations, since individual farmers are unable to challenge obsolete trade certification rules;

55.

Points out that, as things stand, private certification systems do not fulfil the objective of helping producers to communicate the characteristics of their products to consumers, and are in fact becoming an exclusive means of access to the market, increasing red tape for farmers and becoming a business for many food distribution companies; sees a need to refrain from promoting the proliferation of such systems, which limit access to the market to a section of the production sector;

56.

Stresses that the current proliferation of private certification systems is hindering access to the market for some in the sector, and that those systems are not helping to improve the communication of product characteristics to consumers; calls on the Commission to promote the mutual recognition of private certification systems in order to limit that proliferation and exclusion from the market of quality products; sees a need for Community guidelines to be drawn up that contain aspects those systems cannot regulate, such ‘status-enhancing’ references, which should be defined on the basis of objective, scales and circumstances;

57.

Points out that regional products are highly significant for local economies and communities and that therefore any proposals to limit the number of geographical indications which may be registered should be opposed;

58.

Considers that there is no need to develop new initiatives for promoting traditional products, as this may undermine the TSG scheme;

59.

Calls for closer cooperation with the International Organisation for Standardisation and the implementation on as large a scale as possible of alternative systems such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points);

60.

Notes, with regard to the international dimension, the existence of a number of problems relating to competitiveness vis-à-vis the European Union’s main trading partners; is concerned at pressure from products from emerging countries which do not meet the same security and quality standards and often benefit from lax controls; reiterates, in this connection, the need to implement the concept of ‘qualified market access’, as affirmed in numerous resolutions of Parliament;

61.

Calls for the generalisation of bilateral agreements with key markets, as well as for agreements on fighting counterfeiting; believes that the Commission should work for clarification of the issues facing international trademark protection, including protection of PGIs, PDOs and TSGs;

Additional aspects

62.

Supports action to communicate, as extensively as possible, the benefits of the European Union’s policies for food quality and safety; regrets the lack of full information and the difficulties of access for the public regarding the European Union’s work in this field; recommends that the Commission and the Member States step up their information and promotion efforts regarding quality and food safety standards for EU products;

63.

Emphasises the potential role of EU funding in this area; notes that in the ‘convergence Member States’ Community participation in the quality programmes is as high as 75 %; nonetheless stresses that credit requirements have now become tighter for small producers in the wake of the world financial crisis, and that this will drastically limit their access to cofinancing;

64.

Considers that farmers’ markets, as outlets for local, seasonal produce run directly by farmers, should be encouraged because they ensure that a fair price is paid for high-quality produce, strengthen the link between product and place of production and encourage consumers to make informed, quality-based choices; considers that Member States should encourage the creation of marketing spaces in which producers can present their products direct to the consumer;

65.

Calls for the creation of sales promotion programmes for local markets, to promote local and regional processing and marketing initiatives; takes the view that this could for example be done by producer cooperatives, which boost added value in rural areas and which by avoiding long transport routes set a good example for combating climate change;

*

* *

66.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.


(1)  OJ C 328, 26.10.1998, p. 232.

(2)  Commission document 625/02.

(3)  OJ L 93, 31.3.2006, p. 12.

(4)  OJ L 268, 18.10.2003, p. 1.

(5)  OJ L 93, 31.3.2006, p. 1.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/43


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Commission Reports on Competition Policy 2006 and 2007

P6_TA(2009)0099

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the Reports on competition policy 2006 and 2007 (2008/2243(INI))

2010/C 87 E/10

The European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission Report on Competition Policy 2006 of 25 June 2007 (COM(2007)0358) and its Report on Competition Policy 2007 of 16 June 2008 (COM(2008)0368),

having regard to the Commission State Aid Action Plan of 7 June 2005 on Less and better targeted state aid: a roadmap for state aid reform 2005-2009 (COM(2005)0107),

having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2006 on State aid reform 2005-2009 (1),

having regard to the Commission Regulation (EC) No 1998/2006 of 15 December 2006 on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the Treaty to de minimis aid (2),

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 800/2008 of 6 August 2008 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the common market in application of Articles 87 and 88 of the Treaty (General block exemption Regulation) (3),

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1400/2002 of 31 July 2002 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices in the motor vehicle sector (4) (Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation),

having regard to the Guidelines on national regional aid for 2007-2013 (5),

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1627/2006 of 24 October 2006 amending Regulation (EC) No 794/2004 as regards the standard forms for notification of aid (6),

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1628/2006 of 24 October 2006 on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the Treaty to national regional investment aid (7),

having regard to the Community Framework for State aid for Research and Development and Innovation (8),

having regard to its resolution of 27 April 2006 on sectoral aspects of the State Aid Action Plan: aid for innovation (9),

having regard to the Community Guidelines on state aid for environmental protection (10),

having regard to the Community Guidelines on State aid to promote risk capital investments in small and medium-sized enterprises (11),

having regard to the Commission Communication concerning the prolongation of the Framework on State aid to shipbuilding (12),

having regard to the Commission Notice on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty to State aid in the form of guarantees (13),

having regard to the Commission Communication on the revision of the method for setting the reference and discount rates (14),

having regard to Commission Directive 2006/111/EC of 16 November 2006 on the transparency of financial relations between Member States and public undertakings as well as on financial transparency within certain undertakings (15),

having regard to its declaration of 19 February 2008 on investigating and remedying the abuse of power by large supermarkets operating in the European Union (16),

having regard to the Commission's sector inquiries in the energy and retail banking sectors,

having regard to the Commission Guidelines on the method of setting fines imposed pursuant to Article 23(2)(a) of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 (17),

having regard to the Commission Notice on Immunity from fines and reduction of fines in cartel cases (18),

having regard to the Commission White Paper of 2 April 2008 on Damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules (COM(2008)0165),

having regard to the Commission White Paper of 11 July 2007 on Sport (COM(2007)0391),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6–0011/2009),

1.

Welcomes publication of the Commission's Competition Policy Reports for 2006 and 2007;

2.

Continues to support a more proactive role for Parliament in the development of competition policy through the introduction of the co-decision procedure;

3.

Congratulates the Commission on its effective challenging of the operation of unlawful hardcore cartels and the record fines imposed on offenders;

4.

Calls upon the Commission and Council, with regard to the Commission's review of the functioning of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 (19), to incorporate the fining principles into Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 and further improve and specify those principles in order to comply with the requirements of general legal principles;

5.

Supports the use of the revised leniency notice and procedure to encourage the provision of information about the operation of unlawful hardcore cartels;

6.

Welcomes the publication of the White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC anti-trust rules but urges that reform be pursued in such a way as to ensure that the negative effects of the US system are not repeated in the European Union;

7.

Requests that the Commission provide better information in its future reports on the role and involvement in competition cases of the Commission Consumer Liaison Officer;

8.

Expresses its concern to avoid the abuse of market power by major corporations, and calls upon the Commission to undertake an analysis of the effects on competition of unequal relationships between suppliers, namely food producers, and retailers, in view of possible abuses of dominant position; looks forward to the reporting by the Commission's working group on buyer power;

9.

Calls on the Commission to consider reviewing the operation of abusive practices in the services sector, which may prevent small businesses from being able to tender for work; notes the problem that self-employed people and freelancers are sometimes denied the possibility of applying standard tariffs in cases where they are almost exclusively economically dependent on one or a few large users of their resources and calls upon the Commission to examine how they may organise negotiate and conclude collective agreements consistent with competition law principles;

10.

Invites the Commission to review its internal procedures for choosing topics for sector inquiries;

11.

Calls on the Commission to consider conducting a sector inquiry into on-line advertising;

12.

Calls on the Commission to undertake an analysis of possible national differences in the application of public procurement rules and possible distortions of competition as a result of these;

13.

Notes that the Commission reports record activity in respect of the following three sectors: antitrust fines for cartels, the number of merger cases notified to the Commission, and the number of State aid notifications to the Commission; urges the Commission, therefore, to undertake an urgent review of staff resources in order to ensure that its Directorate General for Competition has appropriate staff numbers to deal with its increasing workload;

14.

Underlines that the application of competition rules to mergers and acquisitions must be evaluated from the perspective of the entire internal market, and not just parts thereof;

15.

Welcomes the evidence in the Commission's Competition Policy Reports for 2006 and 2007 of the effectiveness of the restructuring of the Merger Control unit in the Directorate General for Competition along sectoral lines with strengthened economic analysis, and peer review;

16.

Welcomes the announcement of the launch of a review of the Merger Regulation (20); reiterates that it considers the current provisions to be insufficient in view of increasingly integrated and complex EU markets and that a review should be undertaken with a view to seeking a consistent approach in the evaluation of comparable merger operations;

17.

Notes the record level of State aid notifications, and welcomes the publication of the General block exemption Regulation to cover small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), research and development aid in favour of SMEs, aid for employment, training aid, and regional aid;

18.

Welcomes, in particular, the possibility of subsidising employers as regards costs incurred by their employees relating to the care of children and parents;

19.

Is worried about the increase in market concentration and conflicts of interest within the banking sector; warns against possible global systemic risks that arise from conflicts of interest and concentration;

20.

Welcomes a review of the State aid scoreboard but urges the Commission to undertake analyses of the effectiveness of State aid and urges that a revision of the scoreboard identify those Member States that have failed adequately to pursue the recovery of illegal State aid;

21.

Welcomes the publication of the revised Community guidelines on State aid for environmental protection, guaranteeing that Member States may support the production of renewable energy and energy efficient cogeneration by granting operating aid that covers in full the difference between production costs and market price;

22.

Renews its call for further progress in relation to both the clarification of the existing competition rules and their practical application in relation to services of general economic interest, given the considerable differences in policies prevailing across the Member States;

23.

Regrets that energy consumers in the European Union continue to suffer from disproportionate price increases and a distorted energy market, which was recognised as a result of the Commission's sector inquiry as not functioning properly; stresses again the importance of a fully completed and well-functioning internal market for energy;

24.

Supports the Commission in its endeavours to develop the EU gas and electricity markets further, with a crucial element being the separation of the transmission networks on the one hand, and the production and supply activities on the other (unbundling);

25.

Expresses concern at the lack of transparency in the formation of fuel prices in EU markets; asks the Commission to ensure proper vigilance over competitive behaviour in those markets;

26.

Calls for mechanisms to be put in place to ensure that the adoption of the Emissions Trading Scheme does not cause distortions in competition both internally and as regards external competitors;

27.

Notes that as long ago as 9 October 2007 the Council invited the Commission to consider streamlining procedures to focus on how State aid enquiries under critical circumstances could be dealt with rapidly;

28.

Welcomes the urgent responses and clarification from the side of the Commission regarding the management of the financial and economic crisis and the use of State aid; notes the increasing amount of State aid and welcomes the further detailed guidelines aiming for better-targeted State aid;

29.

Recognises the applicability of Article 87(3)(b) of the Treaty to the circumstances currently facing Member States’ economies as a result of the turbulence on the financial markets; considers it necessary, however, that the Commission remain strongly vigilant as regards financial rescue packages to ensure the compatibility of emergency actions with principles of fair competition;

30.

Warns against the effective suspension of the competition rules; stresses the need to scrutinise rescue operations in detail and ensure they are in conformity with Treaty provisions; requests the Commission to give a comprehensive ex post report to Parliament and to Member States’ parliaments on the application of competition rules in each individual case in its next annual Competition Policy Report;

31.

Expresses concern at the ongoing contraction in economic activity in the European Union, which is forecast to extend into 2009; considers it appropriate that, in the framework of the competition rules, adequate response mechanisms, such as restructuring aid or the globalisation adjustment fund, are deployed to combat the growth and employment impact from the credit crisis;

32.

Urges the Commission to recognise the need to put in place mechanisms which minimise distortions of competition and the potential abuse of the preferential situations of beneficiaries brought about by State guarantees;

33.

Urges the Commission to enforce behavioural constraints on financial institutions in receipt of State aid in order to ensure that such institutions do not engage in aggressive expansion against the background of the guarantee to the detriment of competitors;

34.

Welcomes the significant reduction in the disparity of new car prices across the European Union which have come about since the implementation of the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation and looks forward to the Commission's evaluation of the effectiveness of that regulation;

35.

Welcomes the Commission's action in reducing telecoms roaming charges; notes, however, that prices are remaining just below the regulated price cap; calls for measures supporting pricing competition rather than regulating retail prices;

36.

Welcomes the contribution of the Commission's Directorate General for Competition to the White Paper on Sport, which, inter alia, draws attention to the established case law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, and the decision-making practice of the Commission with respect to the application of Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty to the sports sector;

37.

Invites the Commission to take greater account of the international dimension of its policies as regards the European Union's competitiveness on the global level and to demand respect for and the application of the reciprocity principle in trade negotiations;

38.

Considers it crucial that competition policy is adequately addressed in the framework of the negotiation of bilateral trade agreements; calls for the Directorate General for Competition to be actively involved in those negotiations in order to secure mutual recognition of competitive practices, particularly in the areas of State aid, public procurement, services, investment and trade facilitation;

39.

Urges the Commission to review the structure of its participation in the International Competition Network and at the European Competition Day in order to ensure that the public is more widely and better informed about the key importance of competition policy in underpinning economic growth and employment;

40.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.


(1)  OJ C 290 E, 29.11.2006, p. 97.

(2)  OJ L 379, 28.12.2006, p. 5.

(3)  OJ L 214, 9.8.2008, p. 3.

(4)  OJ L 203, 1.8.2002, p. 30.

(5)  OJ C 54, 4.3.2006, p. 13.

(6)  OJ L 302, 1.11.2006, p. 10.

(7)  OJ L 302, 1.11.2006, p. 29.

(8)  OJ C 323, 30.12.2006, p. 1.

(9)  OJ C 296 E, 6.12.2006, p. 263.

(10)  OJ C 82, 1.4.2008, p. 1.

(11)  OJ C 194, 18.8.2006, p. 2.

(12)  OJ C 173, 8.7.2008, p. 3.

(13)  OJ C 155, 20.6.2008, p. 10.

(14)  OJ C 14, 19.1.2008, p. 6.

(15)  OJ L 318, 17.11.2006, p. 17.

(16)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0054.

(17)  OJ C 210, 1.9.2006, p. 2.

(18)  OJ C 298, 8.12.2006, p. 17.

(19)  Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty (OJ L 1, 4.1.2003, p. 1).

(20)  Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings (the EC Merger Regulation) (OJ L 24, 29.1.2004, p. 1).


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/48


Tuesday 10 March 2009
Small Business Act

P6_TA(2009)0100

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2009 on the Small Business Act (2008/2237(INI))

2010/C 87 E/11

The European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission Communication of 25 June 2008 entitled ‘Think Small First’ - A ‘Small Business Act’ for Europe (COM(2008)0394) and the accompanying Commission staff working document on impact assessment (SEC(2008)2102),

having regard to its resolutions of 30 November 2006 on Time to move up a gear - Creating a Europe of entrepreneurship and growth (1) and of 19 January 2006 on implementing the European Charter for Small Enterprises (2),

having regard to the 2 715th Competitiveness Council Conclusions of 13 March 2006 on SME policy for growth and employment, and to the 2 891st Competitiveness Council conclusions of 1 and 2 December 2008,

having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 12 February 2009,

having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 14 January 2009,

having regard to the 2008 good practice selection of the European Charter for Small Enterprises,

having regard to the Commission staff working document of 25 June 2008 entitled European code of best practices facilitating access by SMEs to public procurement contracts (SEC(2008)2193),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 8 October 2007 entitled Small, clean and competitive - A programme to help small and medium-sized enterprises comply with environmental legislation (COM(2007)0379),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 16 July 2008 on the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy Action Plan (COM(2008)0397),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 16 July 2008 entitled An Industrial Property Rights Strategy for Europe (COM(2008)0465),

having regard to the opinions of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens of 10 July 2008 on administrative burden reduction in the priority area of company law, and of 22 October 2008 on the reform of the rules on invoicing and electronic invoicing in Directive 2006/112/EC (VAT Directive),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0074/2009),

A.

whereas the 23 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU, accounting for around 99 % of all enterprises and providing over 100 million jobs, play a fundamental role in contributing to economic growth, social cohesion and job creation, are a major source of innovation and are vital for sustaining and expanding employment,

B.

whereas SMEs have to be placed at the heart of all Community policies to enable them to develop and adapt to the demands of globalisation, to participate in the knowledge triangle and to adapt to environmental and energy challenges,

C.

whereas despite previous European Union initiatives, there has been little or no tangible improvement in the business environment for SMEs since 2000,

D.

whereas the overwhelming majority of SMEs are micro enterprises, craft businesses, family businesses and cooperatives which are the natural incubators of entrepreneurial culture and therefore play an important role in enhancing social inclusion and self-employment,

E.

whereas SMEs are not provided with sufficient support to defend themselves against unfair commercial practices that are conducted cross-border, such as those of misleading business directory companies,

F.

whereas, despite their differences, Europe’s SMEs face many of the same challenges in realising their full potential, in areas such as relatively higher administration and compliance costs than larger enterprises, access to finance and markets, innovation and the environment,

G.

whereas, as a key contribution to achieving an SME-friendly environment, the perception of the role of entrepreneurs and risk-taking has to change: entrepreneurship and the associated willingness to take risk should be applauded by political leaders and the media, and supported by administrations,

H.

whereas SMEs, when initiating their processes of internationalisation, have to deal with specific problems, such as lack of international experience, scarcity of experienced human resources, a highly complex international regulatory framework, and the need to introduce changes in organisation and business culture,

I.

whereas Parliament has frequently noted with regret the lack of binding legal force of the European Charter for Small Enterprises which has undermined its genuine implementation and that of its 10 recommendations which have, for the most part, gone unheeded; whereas it consequently requested the Council to look into that matter, in its above-mentioned resolution of 19 January 2006,

General

1.

Supports warmly the above-mentioned Commission Communication of 25 June 2008, which aims to drive an ambitious policy agenda to promote SMEs’ growth through the 10 guiding principles and to anchor the ‘Think Small First’ approach in policy-making at all levels;

2.

Regrets, however, that the Small Business Act (SBA) is not a legally binding instrument; considers that its truly innovative aspect is its intention to place the ‘Think Small First’ principle at the heart of Community policies; calls on the Council and the Commission to join Parliament in the effort to establish this principle as a binding rule, in a form to be determined, in order to ensure that it is properly applied in all future Community legislation;

3.

Emphasises the absolute necessity of implementing the 10 guiding principles at European, national and regional level; calls therefore on the Council and the Commission to make a strong political commitment to ensure proper implementation; urges the Commission and the Member States and to work in close cooperation with all relevant stakeholders to define the priorities and urgently implement, in particular at national level, the SBA Action Plan adopted by the Competitiveness Council on 1 December 2008, ensuring that all parties involved gain effective ownership of the guiding principles;

4.

Calls on the Commission to further enhance the visibility and awareness of SME-related policy actions through the bundling of existing Community instruments and funds for SMEs under a separate heading in the EU budget;

5.

Is strongly convinced that it is vital to introduce a follow-up mechanism to monitor the proper and speedy implementation of those policy initiatives which have already been launched; therefore calls on the Council to embed the actions to be taken at the level of Member States in the Lisbon process and to inform Parliament annually on the progress made;

6.

Calls on the Commission to set up a screening system for the monitoring of the progress achieved following implementation of the 10 guiding principles by the Commission and Member States; calls on the Commission to establish standard evaluation criteria for assessing the progress made; calls on the Member States to incorporate their first progress reports in their upcoming annual reports on the national reform programmes;

7.

Stresses the need to place particular emphasis on craft, family, micro- and individual enterprises at EU, national and regional level and urges the Commission and the Member States to take regulatory, administrative, fiscal and life-long learning measures specifically targeted at these enterprises; also calls for the acknowledgement of the specific characteristics of the liberal professions and the need to treat them in the same way as other SMEs except where this contradicts the existing law governing these professions; highlights the important role of SME associations for traders, craft businesses and other professions; calls on the Commission and the Member States to work together to improve the business environment for these industries and the legal framework for their professional and industry associations;

8.

Considers that the Commission’s proposals lack a clear strategy for self-employed persons to improve their legal status and rights, particularly if their position is comparable with salaried employees; calls on the Commission to guarantee self-employed persons the right to agree standard tariffs, to organise themselves, and to conclude collective agreements, if their counterpart is a large principal with a dominant position, provided that this does not harm less powerful potential clients and does not cause market distortions;

9.

Urges the Commission and the Member States to provide targeted promotion measures and individual support such as information, advice and opportunities to access venture capital for business start-ups in the SME sector;

10.

Emphasises the need to develop a social and economic model that creates an appropriate security network for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in the creative sector, where unstable working conditions are often encountered.

11.

Notes with regret that women face difficulties in establishing and maintaining businesses owing to factors such as information gaps, lack of contacts and access to networking, gender discrimination and stereotyping, weak and inflexible supply of childcare facilities, difficulties in reconciling business and family obligations, as well as differences in the way women and men approach entrepreneurship;

12.

Applauds the proposed introduction of a network of female entrepreneur ambassadors, mentoring schemes for women to set up their own businesses, and the promotion of entrepreneurship among female graduates; draws, however, attention to the fact that many enterprises are still gender-segregated, which is, and will for a long time be, a very serious problem, since as long as women are discriminated against in the labour market, the European Union loses able workers and entrepreneurs and as a consequence loses money; therefore believes that even more money should be invested in projects to endorse female entrepreneurs;

13.

Stresses that female entrepreneurship helps to attract women into the labour market and to improve their economic and social status; regrets, nonetheless, that there is a continuing gender gap in this area, in particular as regards pay, despite the strong interest shown for women, and that the percentage of female entrepreneurs in the European Union still remains low, partly as a result of the unacknowledged (for example, unpaid) and yet important contribution made by women in the day-to-day running of family SMEs;

14.

Urges the Commission and Member States to take into account the creative and cultural sector as a driver of economic and social development in the European Union – with a share of 2.6 % of the GDP and 2.5 % of the EU workforce; emphasises the importance of SMEs in stimulating the ICT sector and the creative industry;

15.

Emphasises that the creative sector is dominated by SMEs and is especially important in terms of safeguarding sustainable regional employment;

16.

Welcomes the Commission’s planned introduction of a directive on reduced VAT rates for labour-intensive and locally supplied services, which are primarily provided by SMEs; stresses however that it must not lead to a distortion of competition and must not be ambiguous as to the services which are covered;

17.

Notes the need to ensure that SMEs have the ability to buy small, buy green and buy local, thus becoming more climate friendly and efficient;

18.

Welcomes the swift adoption of the general block exemption in respect of state aids, and of measures on the statute for a European private company and on reduced VAT rates;

19.

Welcomes the Commission proposal to reduce VAT rates for locally supplied services; calls on the Commission to take further action to relax state aid rules to encourage the provision of public procurement opportunities to local companies, in particular to local SMEs;

20.

Supports the idea to extend until 2012 the current exemption from the EC competition rules on state aid of film production and considers this as a great support to creative SMEs;

21.

Supports the new state aid rules laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 800/2008 of 6 August 2008 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the common market in application of Articles 87 and 88 of the Treaty (General block exemption Regulation) (3) for exempting, under certain conditions, SMEs from notification rules;

22.

Notes that, despite the clear commitment made in the European Charter for Small Enterprises, the voice of SMEs remain muted within the context of the social dialogue; urges that this deficit is formally corrected by appropriate proposals within the context of the SBA;

23.

Sees a need, in the framework of the SBA, for greater emphasis to be given to the area of labour law, especially in view of the concept of flexicurity, which enables SMEs in particular to respond more quickly to changes in the market and therefore to guarantee a higher level of employment and the competitiveness of the company, including its international competitiveness, while taking into account the necessary social protection; in this connection refers to its resolution of 29 November 2007 on common principles of flexicurity (4);

24.

Furthermore, stresses the importance of labour law, and especially how its application to SMEs can be optimised, for example through better advice or the simplification of administrative procedures, and calls on the Member States to devote special attention to SMEs in connection with the specific approaches they adopt to flexicurity, including through active labour market policies, since SMEs have scope for greater internal and external flexibility owing to their low staffing levels but also need greater security for themselves and their workers; considers it essential that labour law, as one of the main pillars of flexicurity, provides a reliable legal basis for SMEs given the fact that these businesses often cannot afford a legal or human resources management department; points out that, according to Eurostat, 91.5 % of European companies employed fewer than 10 people in 2003;

25.

Considers it necessary to introduce measures to combat undeclared work, which is indisputably a source of unfair competition for highly labour-intensive SMEs;

26.

Invites Member States to increase in the mainstream economy the inclusion of SMEs owned by underrepresented ethnic minorities, by developing supplier diversity programmes which aim to provide equal opportunities to underrepresented businesses competing with larger undertakings for contracts;

27.

Underlines the importance of a statute for a European Private Company as a new, additional legal form, provided that it is focused on SMEs that intend to engage in cross-border activities and cannot be abused by larger companies, to undermine and circumvent legal provisions in the Member States that foster a system of corporate governance that takes into account the interests of all stakeholders;

28.

Calls on public authorities, on the basis of the principle that access to information is a precondition for obtaining information itself, and considering the importance of the Internet as a vehicle in this regard, to simplify institutional websites as far as possible to enable users to pinpoint and better understand the support mechanisms being offered;

Boosting R&D and innovation

29.

Stresses the importance of innovation for SMEs and the difficulties in taking advantage of research opportunities; considers that national academies of science and research institutes could play a role in driving innovation and reducing barriers to research for SMEs; believes that the focus should not only be on high-tech innovation, but that low and middle level of technology and informal innovation should also be considered; considers that the European Institute for Innovation and Technology could have an important role in boosting R&D and innovation for SMEs; calls upon Member States to multiply initiatives that lower the threshold for SMEs to have access to research; is convinced that all Community research and technological programmes should be designed in a way that facilitates the cross-border participation of SMEs;

30.

Supports the Commission’s initiative to improve access to the Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013) (5);

31.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to put in place better framework conditions aimed at creating an environment favourable to innovation by SMEs, in particular by introducing ways to improve the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and to fight against counterfeiting more effectively throughout the European Union; believes that well-balanced rules on IPR can offer protection whilst ensuring the flow and exchange of information and ideas; emphasises that SMEs need support to access IPR protection, to uphold these rights with the assistance of the relevant IPR authorities and also to use their IPR to attract finance;

32.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to demand that their commercial partners apply the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) more strictly and to make whatever efforts may be necessary for the adoption of bilateral, regional or multilateral agreements to combat counterfeiting and piracy, such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA);

33.

Takes the view that the full potential of e-commerce for SMEs is not yet fully exploited and that there is still much to be done to achieve a Single European Electronic Market for products and services where SMEs could play a leading role in the further integration of the EU markets;

34.

Considers that the participation of SMEs in clusters must be promoted in order to boost innovation and increase the competitiveness of the EU economy; calls therefore on the Commission to support the improvement of cluster management, notably through the exchange of best practices and training programmes, to design and disseminate tools to assess the performance of clusters, to promote inter-cluster cooperation, and to further simplify administrative procedures for the participation of clusters in EU programmes;

35.

Calls for the SBA to take account of cooperative arrangements among SMEs (buying and marketing groups), since such groups have been shown to be less at risk of insolvency than individual enterprises;

36.

Is strongly convinced that patents play an important role in innovation and economic performance, since they enable innovators to capture the returns from innovative investments and provide the necessary security for investment, equity and loans; is therefore of the opinion that a swift agreement should be reached on a Community Patent ensuring low-cost, efficient, flexible and high-quality legal protection, adapted to the needs of SMEs, as well as on a harmonised European patent litigation system;

37.

Stresses the need to promote innovative and pre-commercial public procurement, since it leads to added value for contracting authorities, citizens, and participating undertakings; calls on Member States to increase the share of innovative public procurement and the participation of innovative SMEs in public procurement procedures; calls on the Commission to facilitate the dissemination of best practices in this field, for example regarding tender criteria and procedure and arrangements for risk and knowledge sharing;

38.

Takes the view that for international public procurement, where new technologies allow for cross-border e-commerce, new forms of, for example, combinatorial auctions for SME-consortia and online publication and advertising tenders allow for significant increases of procurement trade not only within the European Union but globally to encourage cross-border e-commerce;

39.

Draws attention to the need for sufficient technical and skilled personnel; therefore, believes that more investment is needed in education and that the links between educational institutions and SMEs should be strengthened, so that the promotion of self-employment, entrepreneurship culture and business awareness is included in the national education curricula; encourages the further extension of individual mobility schemes such as ‘Erasmus for young entrepreneurs’ and ‘Erasmus for apprentices’, in particular in relation to female participation; supports the envisaged extension of the scope of the Leonardo da Vinci programme and the creation of a European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training; urges the Member States, in collaboration with social partners and training providers, to set up work-based vocational and occupational (re)training and lifelong learning programmes specifically tailored to SMEs’ needs that will be co-financed by the European Social Fund; calls on the Commission to facilitate exchange of best practices in innovative training and measures to reconcile work and family life and to promote gender equality;

40.

Stresses the importance of encouraging young entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs through, amongst other things, the introduction of tutoring and mentoring programmes; points out that an increasing number of women and young entrepreneurs work in SMEs, albeit primarily still in the smallest businesses (micro-businesses), and remain vulnerable to the adverse effects of stereotyping and prejudice in connection with business transfers and successions, especially in the case of family businesses; calls therefore on Member States, taking account of the impact of the ageing population, to implement suitable policies and mechanisms, in particular by introducing diagnostic, information, advisory and support tools for business transfers;

41.

Points out that the Seventh Framework Programme contains a financial risk sharing mechanism which should enable access to be facilitated to loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for large-scale projects; calls on the Commission to assess SME recourse to that mechanism, and consequently to introduce any necessary proposals;

42.

Welcomes the launching of a single European network integrating the services currently provided by Euro Info Centres and Innovation Relay Centres in order to support SMEs in all their innovation and competitiveness efforts through a wide range of services;

43.

Calls on the Commission to assess SME participation in the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (6) and to bring forward any necessary proposals;

Ensure funding and access to finance

44.

Points out that the main source of funding for SMEs in Europe comes from their own activity and from credits and loans from financial institutions; notes that SMEs are perceived as higher-risk which hampers their access to finance; calls for a combined effort on the part of financial institutions, the Commission and the Member States to ensure SMEs’ access to finance and to offer them the possibility of consolidating their capital by reinvesting their profit in the company; believes that payment of charges prior to SMEs commencing activities should not be required in order to ensure that they are able to build up their own funds and resources; in this respect, points to the urgency of the current financial situation and the need for immediate action;

45.

Calls on the Commission and Member States to step up their efforts to promote and provide information on the existence of European funds and state aids intended for SMEs, and to make these two instruments both more accessible and more easily understandable;

46.

Calls on the Member States to create better conditions allowing SMEs to invest in skills training, not least through direct tax cuts and compensation arrangements between tax authorities and the European Union;

47.

Recognises that the Member States’ taxation system can be a deterrent to the transfer of businesses, in particular family businesses, increasing the risk of liquidation or closure of the company; calls, therefore, on Member States to review carefully their legal and fiscal framework to improve the conditions for transfer of businesses, especially in cases of owner retirement or illness; is convinced that such improvement will facilitate the continuation of the activities of businesses, in particular family businesses, preservation of jobs and reinvestment of profit;

48.

Is very satisfied with the recent alignment between the cohesion policy and the Lisbon Strategy; believes that by directing regional funds more towards entrepreneurship, research and innovation, considerable funds could become available at local level to enhance business potential;

49.

Stresses that dynamic financial markets are essential for the financing of SMEs and underlines the need to open up European risk capital markets by improving the availability of and access to venture capital, mezzanine finance and micro-credit; for this reason considers that, in normal circumstances, SMEs should have access to credit provided by actors on the capital markets that can assess their prospects and cover their needs more effectively;

50.

Supports the decision taken by the Council and the EIB to adopt a series of reforms to broaden SME finance products by the EIB group as well as offer a substantial development of its global loans to its banking partners, both in quantitative and qualitative terms;

51.

Stresses that SMEs’ limited ability to access finance is a major impediment to their creation and growth; welcomes, in this respect, the EIB’s decision to boost by an additional EUR 30 000 million the funding available for guarantees and other financial instruments for SMEs; calls on the EIB to devise new forms of financial instruments and tangible new solutions to tackle the obstacles that collateral presents to accessing credit; also calls on the Member States, in the light of the current economic crisis, to encourage banks to guarantee SMEs access to credit on reasonable terms;

52.

Applauds the recent initiative for a Joint Action to Support Micro-finance Institutions in Europe (JASMINE), which will be beneficial for business start-ups, and in particular will promote youth and female entrepreneurship; calls on Member States, in cooperation with SME organisations and lending institutions to take a proactive role in providing information on access to and application for microcredits and alternative forms of finance;

53.

Emphasises the important role of the EIB and the European Investment Fund (EIF) in improving financing available to SMEs, particularly given the current financial turmoil and its repercussions on the credit market; invites the Commission and Member States to investigate further how current banking rules and other financial regulations, including the transparency of credit ratings, could be improved to ease access to finance for SMEs; calls on the Commission in cooperation with Member States and the EIB to establish the right framework conditions for the development of a pan-European venture capital market;

54.

Points out that one in four cases of failure of SMEs is due to late payments, in most cases on the part of public administrations; emphasises that the present ‘credit crunch’ may disproportionally affect SMEs as larger customers put pressure on smaller suppliers to grant extended payment terms; in this respect, welcomes the Commission’s proposal to review Directive 2000/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 June 2000 on combating late payment in commercial transactions (7) and calls on the Member States to improve the payment culture in their public administrations; urges the creation at Community level of a harmonised time limit for payments, possibly shortened for payments to SMEs, and penalties for exceeding this limit;

55.

Welcomes the measures proposed in the SBA seeking to improve the supply of capital to SMEs; calls in particular, in the light of the financial crisis, for tried and tested state SME support programmes to be expanded and/or continued and for their support to be extended to financial intermediaries;

56.

Notes the enormous potential of the EU Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme in correcting market failures in SME financing, in promoting eco-innovation and in supporting entrepreneurial culture;

Improving market access

57.

Points out that standardisation can lead to innovation and competitiveness by facilitating access to markets and by enabling interoperability; calls on the Commission to improve access to standards for SMEs and their participation in the standardisation process; encourages the Commission to further promote Community standards internationally;

58.

Stresses the importance of involving, as fully as possible, the Enterprise Europe Network, the national project management authorities, the chambers of commerce and industry and the public authorities in the promotion at local level of the opportunities offered by the EU programmes for research, development and innovation and by the EU Structural Funds, including the Community initiative on Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE);

59.

Notes that public procurement covers around 17 % of EU GDP; calls on the Commission and Member States to strengthen SME access to and participation in public procurement by using the opportunities presented in the above-mentioned European code of best practices facilitating access by SMEs to public procurement contracts through inter alia:

making more use of e-procurement,

adapting the size of contracts,

alleviating the administrative and financial burden in tendering,

providing relevant and proportionate qualification criteria in specific tenders,

enhancing access to information on public tenders for SMEs,

harmonising required documents;

60.

Encourages, furthermore, Member States to take the following steps:

to require contracting authorities to justify the non-splitting of contracts,

to extend the possibility of responding as a consortium to public calls for tender,

to make the requirement to pay advances general practice for all public procurement contracts;

61.

Notes that there is a need for a system consultancy service that would assist the everyday operation of SMEs during their whole lifecycle with the aim of optimising their investments;

62.

Considers that advanced e-business applications, based on the implementation of interoperable electronic signatures and authentication certificates, is a crucial driver of SME competitiveness and should be encouraged by the Commission and the Member States;

63.

Underlines the importance of the internal market for SMEs, and notes that promoting SME access to the internal market should be a priority;

64.

Recognises that there are still certain restrictions on the ability of SMEs to fully exploit advantages offered by the internal market; therefore notes that both the legal and political framework of the internal market should be improved to facilitate cross-border operation by SMEs; also notes that a clear regulatory environment would offer SMEs increased incentives to trade in the internal market; considers that Member States should set up single points of contact and web portals;

65.

Underlines that improved information on market access and export opportunities within the Single Market is essential at both national and EU levels; calls therefore on the Commission and the Member States and to strengthen information and advisory services, in particular the SOLVIT problem-solving network;

66.

Supports calls for the provision of advisory services by Member States to help SMEs defend themselves against unfair commercial practices, such as those of misleading business directory companies, which should strengthen SMEs’ confidence to operate cross-border; emphasises the importance of the Commission’s role both in facilitating the coordination of, and in cooperating with, such advisory services to ensure the appropriate and efficient handling of cross-border complaints; insists, however, that in the event that such soft measures do not produce results, the Commission should be ready to initiate the appropriate legislative changes which would provide SMEs with similar protection to consumers where they are the weaker party in such transactions;

67.

Points out that only 8 % of all SMEs are involved in cross-border activities, which curtails possibilities for growth; considers that it is essential to boost the internal market; believes that Member States should cooperate in harmonising administrative requirements that affect intra-Community activities; calls on the Member States swiftly to transpose and implement the Services Directive (8) paying special attention to the interests of SMEs and also encourages the swift adoption of the statute for a European Private Company;

68.

Believes that there should be a common consolidated basis for company taxation; calls for the establishment of a ‘one-stop-shop’ for VAT in order to make it possible for entrepreneurs to fulfil their responsibilities in the business country of origin;

69.

Calls on the Commission to continuously enhance the framework requirements for the access of SMEs to foreign markets and to support the provision of information; encourages the setting up of European business support centres in China and India, and in all emerging markets, in close cooperation with national business support centres already operating there; because poor SME participation in cross border activities can also be explained by the lack of language skills and multicultural competences, greater means of action are needed in order to achieve this challenge; recalls nevertheless that SMEs need better access to information and qualified advice in their home country;

70.

Stresses the importance of progress in trade negotiations which would further reduce regulatory barriers to trade, which effect SMEs disproportionately;

71.

Calls on the Commission to include in its work programme the incorporation of equal treatment for SMEs in the rules of the WTO on access to public procurement contracts; calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to the problems encountered by SMEs with customs formalities, in particular by facilitating the adaptation of their computer systems as cheaply as possible to those used by national customs authorities, and by simplifying the arrangements for access to the status of economic operator;

Fighting bureaucracy and red-tape

72.

Believes that there is an imperative need to cut red tape by at least 25 % where possible and to put in place a modern administration adapted to the needs of SMEs; therefore, encourages the promotion of ICT knowledge among SMEs, in particular among young and female entrepreneurs, and the better use of digital technology to enable them to save time and money and to devote the resulting resources to their development; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take initiatives in order to exchange and promote best practices, set benchmarks, and elaborate and promote guidelines and standards for SME-friendly administrative practices; is convinced that it is also imperative in the near future to implement the proposals of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens with a view to achieving the reduction target without risking access to finance for SMEs;

73.

Believes that SMEs, and in particular micro-enterprises, should be taxed in a way that reduces administrative efforts as far as possible, in such a way as to facilitate the start-up phase and encourage innovation and investment throughout their lives;

74.

Emphasises the fundamental importance of evaluating the impact of future legislative initiatives on SMEs; therefore calls for mandatory, systematic and targeted impact assessments for SMEs, a so called ‘SME test’, the results of which should be subject to an independent evaluation that should be made available to the EU legislative bodies; believes that specific attention should be paid to the impact, including the administrative burden, on small and micro enterprises; urges the Commission to apply the SME test to all new proposals for EU legislation affecting business including simplification of existing legislation and withdrawals of pending proposals; encourages Member States to introduce similar SME tests at national level;

75.

Is of the opinion that any new legislation, for example to avoid delays in the field of payments, copyright, company law or competition law (such as the rules adopted to facilitate obtaining data litigation concerning anti-competitive behaviour or that arising from the State aid General block exemption Regulation), should be formulated in such a way so as not to discriminate against SMEs but, rather, to support them and the provision of their services across the internal market;

76.

Stresses the need for proper and timely involvement of SMEs in policy making; therefore, believes that the Commission’s consultation period should be extended to at least 12 weeks from the date on which the consultation is available in all Community languages; recognises the essential and valuable role of representative business organisations, therefore, calls on the Commission wherever relevant, to integrate SMEs and their representative organisations directly into advisory expert committees and high level groups;

77.

Calls on the Commission to stimulate simplification and harmonisation of company law and, in particular, accounting rules within the internal market in order to reduce the administrative burden for SMEs and increase the transparency for all relevant stakeholders; urges the Commission to promote strongly the use of new technology such as eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) by presenting a roadmap for introducing XBRL reporting in the European Union with a view to making it mandatory within a reasonable time frame and to promote and support wide use of this open standard;

78.

Encourages the setting up of a ‘statistics holiday’ for micro enterprises, granting them temporary exemptions from mandatory statistical surveys, the broad application of the ‘only once’ principal with regard to information provided by undertakings to public authorities, and the further development of e-government;

79.

Stresses the need for the introduction of common commencement dates for new Community legislation affecting SMEs; calls on the Member States and SME associations to inform SMEs concisely and comprehensibly of changes to legislation affecting them;

80.

Encourages Member States in co-operation with SME organisations to set up, building on existing structures such as the Enterprise Europe Network and Europe Direct offices, national dedicated physical or electronic information contact points and support agencies for SMEs in line with the ‘one-stop shop’ principle, offering access to various sources of information and support services, structured according to the life cycle of a business;

81.

Recognises the difficulty of setting up a new business as a result of the diversity of systems established in the various Member States; therefore considers it necessary to establish a unified system for setting up businesses in which the process is carried out step-by-step and it is possible for a business to be created in 48 hours;

82.

Reiterates that the financial rules governing Community programmes often still lead to unnecessarily bureaucratic, long and costly procedures particularly for SMEs; calls on the Commission to revitalise the Observatory of European SMEs, to publish data on their participation in each Community programme, accompanied by a benefit analysis, and consequently submit proposals on increasing their participation; calls on the Commission to enhance the role and visibility of the respective SME designates in the different policy areas; furthermore, encourages all initiatives allowing the development of an ‘SME spirit’ in policy making within public authorities, such as the Commission’s ‘Enterprise Experience Programme’ which allows European civil servants to familiarise themselves with SMEs;

83.

Deplores Member States’ practice of ‘gold plating’, which is particularly harmful for SMEs, and calls upon the Commission to investigate what further measures might be taken to prevent it; calls for follow-up impact assessments, analysing how decisions are in fact implemented in Member States and at local level;

84.

Calls for a special EU website for SMEs which shall contain information and application forms for EU projects, national telephone numbers, links to partners, trade information, information on research projects as well as internet consultation, briefings and information about new regulation;

85.

Calls on the Commission to undertake, with Member States, work on the harmonisation of the application forms which must be completed by enterprises in application and tendering processes;

86.

Welcomes the Best Idea for Red Tape Reduction Award for the public authorities that have delivered innovative red tape reduction measures at a local, regional or national level;

87.

Calls for 30 days payment from EU cohesion funds to those projects which have already been approved, so as to ensure the continued progress, survival and effect of those projects;

Turning sustainability into business

88.

Recognises that efforts to improve sustainability could become an important source of (eco-) innovation and a key asset for industry’s competitiveness; draws attention to the fact that SMEs are often not sufficiently aware of new energy efficient and environmentally friendly solutions or do not have the necessary financial resources to acquire them; therefore, invites the Commission to investigate how the Community could help SMEs to become more resource and energy efficient;

89.

Reiterates the importance accorded to the corporate social responsibility of small-scale businesses, which necessitates horizontal links, networks and services; considers it ineffective to refer to the European Environmental Management and Audit system certification, both because this will detract from existing certificates, and because it links in solely with the environmental challenge;

90.

Welcomes recent initiatives to assist SMEs in coping with environmental legislation, by inter alia granting them reduced agency fees, ensuring their access to information on environmental standards or introducing specific exemptions from Community legislation;

*

* *

91.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.


(1)  OJ C 316 E, 22.12.2006, p. 378.

(2)  OJ C 287 E, 24.11.2006, p. 258.

(3)  OJ L 214, 9.8.2008, p. 3.

(4)  OJ C 297 E, 20.11.2008, p. 174.

(5)  OJ L 412, 30.12.2006, p. 1.

(6)  Decision No 1639/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 establishing a Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (2007 to 2013) (OJ L 310, 9.11.2006, p. 15).

(7)  OJ L 200, 8.8.2000, p. 35.

(8)  Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market (OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36).


Wednesday 11 March 2009

1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/60


Wednesday 11 March 2009
The social situation of the Roma and their improved access to the labour market in the EU

P6_TA(2009)0117

European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on the social situation of the Roma and their improved access to the labour market in the EU (2008/2137(INI))

2010/C 87 E/12

The European Parliament,

having regard to Articles 3, 6, 7, 29 and 149 of the EC Treaty, in particular the requirement that Member States ensure equal opportunities for all citizens of the Union,

having regard to Article 13 of the EC Treaty, which enables the Community to take appropriate action to combat discrimination based, inter alia, on racial or ethnic origin,

having regard to its resolutions of 28 April 2005 on the situation of the Roma in the European Union (1), of 1 June 2006 on the situation of Roma women in the European Union (2), of 31 January 2008 on a European strategy on the Roma (3) and of 10 July 2008 on the census of the Roma on the basis of ethnicity in Italy (4),

having regard to its resolution of 9 October 2008 on promoting social inclusion and combating poverty, including child poverty, in the EU (5),

having regard to Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin (6) and Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (7),

having regard to the Commission communication of 2 July 2008 on a Renewed social agenda: opportunities, access and solidarity in 21st century Europe (COM(2008)0412) (Commission Communication on a Renewed Social Agenda),

having regard to the Commission proposal of 2 July 2008 for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (COM(2008)0426),

having regard to its position of 17 June 2008 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (2010) (8),

having regard to its resolution of 23 May 2007 on promoting decent work for all (9),

having regard to the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of 1 February 1995 and the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 4 November 1950,

having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 10 December 1984,

having regard to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area of 27 November 2003,

having regard to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights 2007 annual report on racism and xenophobia in the Member States,

having regard to the Declaration of the Decade of Roma Inclusion of the 2 February 2005 and the establishment of the Roma Education Fund on 12 May 2005,

having regard to the Commission report on The Situation of Roma in an Enlarged European Union of 2005,

having regard to the High Level Advisory Group of Experts on the Social Integration of Ethnic Minorities and their Full Participation in the Labour Market report on Ethnic Minorities in the Labour Market: An Urgent Call for Better Social Inclusion of the of April 2007,

having regard to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Final Report on the Human Rights Situation of the Roma, Sinti and Travellers in Europe of 2006,

having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee opinion on the ‘Integration of minorities – Roma’ (10) (EESC Opinion),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0038/2009),

A.

whereas following recent enlargements of the European Union, the need for social integration has created new challenges, which must be dealt with in the context of new demographic and economic circumstances and whereas although those challenges must be tackled in all Member States, the Member States in central and eastern Europe are more affected because of their structural, economic and social transformation over the last twenty years; notes, therefore, that vulnerable social groups, such as Roma, are in the most endangered situation,

B.

whereas in Member States where industrial sectors have collapsed, regions have seen their prospects of development decline and, as a result, many Roma in particular have been forced to the margins of society through the rapid escalation of poverty; whereas Parliament notes and reiterates that, during the course of this process, the Roma’s right to national and EU citizenship has become devalued and the benefits flowing from enlargement have not reached them in an appropriate way, causing a deepening of their marginalisation in several ways and increasing the risk they face of multiple discrimination,

C.

whereas the strategic political offensive to promote equal opportunities for Roma must contend with an extremely complex social situation because the Roma, Europe’s largest ethnic minority, share the disadvantages of other groups, and whereas that struggle could most effectively be assisted by a comprehensive Roma strategy and a coordinated set of instruments extending to a range of sectoral policies and with the aid of financing for them,

D.

whereas travellers constitute a separate ethnic phenomenon, which could justifiably be discussed as a separate issue from the point of view both of human rights and of social and labour-market issues,

E.

whereas the process of integrating the Roma population into society is not unilateral but multilateral and there is a need for the Roma to be actively involved in the decision-making process when social inclusion policies are drawn up,

F.

whereas the living conditions of Roma, their health status and the level of their schooling determine their social and labour-market situation and often serve as pretexts for their exclusion from majority societies and for racism, and hamper improvements to their quality of life, thus preventing the exercise of the most fundamental human and civil rights,

G.

whereas poor transport infrastructure, a dearth of public administrative bodies and services, in particular high-quality educational institutions and health provision and the relocation of businesses compel young people to move away from home for economic reasons, aggravating regional disparities and ghettoisation,

H.

whereas it is very important, just before the end of the second part of the Lisbon process, to evaluate the social situation and employment prospects of the Roma and to decide what should be done,

I.

acknowledging the importance of the Structural and Cohesion Funds in promoting integration and noting that, because of the complexity of social problems facing the Roma, it is not conceivable that they can be solved purely by means of the project system characteristic of the Structural and Cohesion Funds,

J.

whereas it is unquestionably important to acknowledge previous good practices, but whereas their validity is limited in time and place,

K.

whereas many Roma communities currently tend to remain immobile rather than moving to areas where greater job opportunities may exist,

Roma on the labour market: access or exclusion?

1.

Considers that there is a need for a coordinated approach to improving the working and living conditions of the Roma community that aims at the following three objectives:

increasing economic opportunities for the Roma;

building human capital, and;

strengthening social capital and community development;

2.

Points to the fact that policies targeting the Roma have, in a number of cases, not improved their situation; requests that, in all EU and Member State actions which particularly affect the Roma, the stakeholders of the Roma community participate as decision-makers, so that their capacity and responsibility for organising themselves is respected;

3.

Notes that the unequal access to services and the socioeconomic disadvantages facing Roma children put early development and high-quality education out of their reach in practice; notes that those disadvantages in turn negatively effect their emotional, social, physical and personal development as well as their subsequent chances on the labour market and hence their integration into the mainstream society;

4.

Notes that education systems are selective and that despite the efforts of the Member States to overcome segregation, the many and varied systems ostensibly designed to tackle segregation in fact often serve to accentuate disparities between social groups and profoundly disadvantage the poor, in particular the Roma, who find themselves on a downward spiral; stresses, therefore, the need for targeted education policies which address Roma families and encourage active participation;

5.

Stresses that, although the proportion of Roma young people in secondary and higher education has increased in certain Member States, their level of qualifications still remains far below the EU average; points to the gap between labour shortages on the one hand and a high unemployment rate linked with low skill levels among Roma on the other; demands, therefore, that the Member States and the EU support the Roma to increase their qualifications as a priority; draws attention to the fact that, in the absence of formal qualifications, the position of Roma on the labour market can also be improved by devising a system for acknowledging practical skills;

6.

Urges the Member States to guarantee that Roma women and girls have access on equal terms to high-quality education and to introduce incentives (e.g. professional development opportunities) to attract high-quality teachers to schools in more deprived socio-economic areas, especially in rural communities with a large proportion of Roma inhabitants;

7.

Calls on the Member States to improve access for Roma women to vocational training, and adjust vocational training to the needs of local labour markets in order to provide Roma women with marketable skills;

8.

Notes that the vast majority of Roma graduates do not return to their communities after leaving university and that some of them either deny their origins or are no longer accepted in their community when they attempt to return;

9.

Recommends that a comprehensive programme package be planned which promotes and motivates the return of Roma graduates to their communities and the employment of the Roma within their communities and in the interests of those communities;

10.

Considers that the Roma citizens in some Member States influence the population pyramid in a specific way; notes that the proportion of Roma children in the population is high, while their life expectancy at birth is a full 10 years less than that of people belonging to the majority population;

11.

Considers that although the Member States have used substantial EU and Member-State resources to help the long-term unemployed to find work, no coherent solution has yet been found at EU level: Member States are tackling the situation in very different ways and to very different extents, and have not provided opportunities to return to the labour market long-term, while their measures, such as public employment programmes, have further aggravated the stigmatisation of the Roma; requests, therefore, that both the EU and the Member States change their policy to an integrated approach that addresses all aspects of their deprivation;

12.

Calls on the Member States to adjust vocational training programmes to the needs of local labour markets and to provide incentives to employers who provide unskilled people (including the Roma) with work and offer them training and opportunities to acquire practical experience directly in the workplace;

13.

Calls on Member State and local authorities to deliver annual gender disaggregated assessments of the rate of re-employment among the long-term unemployed (including the Roma) who have completed labour market training and, based on the experience gained, to draw up new methodologies and launch training programmes adapted to local abilities and economic needs;

14.

Calls on the Member States to use EU funds to preserve and protect traditional Roma activities;

15.

Endorses the Commission view that Roma adults, due to their multiple disadvantages, are under-represented in the working population and in lifelong learning, often have no access to ICT, and are over-represented among the long-term unemployed and those working in low-prestige occupations, which create the greatest barriers of their reintegration into the labour market; calls, therefore, for the effective implementation of Directive 2000/78/EC, which prohibits discrimination in employment and occupation on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation;

16.

Considers it important to provide for specific Community action to promote access to professional training programmes by the Roma;

17.

Draws it to the attention of the Member States that this social dichotomy may compel many Roma job-seekers to transfer from the legal to the informal economy, and that a coordinated effort is needed at EU and Member State level to entice those people back into legal employment with work-related and social security rights;

18.

Considers that steps should be taken to promote an inclusive social and economic policy, including through ad hoc measures to provide decent housing;

19.

Draws particular attention to the fact that encouraging unqualified and unskilled labour mobility may lead to worse discrimination against Roma women who are already extremely vulnerable to multiple discrimination, and may hinder their further progress in the labour market;

20.

Calls on the governments of the Member States to improve Roma women’s economic independence by promoting easy self-employment and start-up measures for small and medium-sized enterprises and access to micro-credits and by stimulating a service economy within their own settlements in order to expand Roma women’s knowledge and expertise;

21.

Calls on the governments of the Member States, inter alia, to generate incentive systems through fiscal advantages, for undertakings that employ Roma women;

22.

Considers it necessary to take account of the fact that, in practice, the elimination of Roma settlements is difficult to achieve using EU resources under the rules which currently apply to the European Regional Development Fund, as, in the case of Member States which acceded after 2004, the minimum population figure for the eligibility of settlements for financing from housing budgets is such that it is precisely those living under the worst conditions, in the smallest settlements, who cannot be reached;

23.

Stresses the fact that the solution to the social and economic problems of the the Roma calls for a comprehensive approach and a long-term, coordinated solution, involving housing, education, health-care and labour market policies; therefore suggests to the Commission and the Member States that all measures intended to improve the situation of the Roma should be considered as an inseparable part of the measures designed to support regional development and social inclusion;

24.

Considers that the Member States should exploit the revision of the rules governing the Structural and Cohesion Funds which affords more scope for complex programmes by allowing more than 10 % to be transferred between different funds;

25.

Notes the proposal for a comprehensive new directive to combat discrimination outside employment on the grounds of age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and calls for the effective implementation of Directive 2000/43/EC; considers that, in the spirit of the Social Agenda, the Commission should identify specific objectives and draw up well-balanced programmes with the aim of eliminating discrimination against and stigmatisation of the Roma, and criminalisation of Roma communities;

26.

Stresses that the basic prerequisite for promoting social inclusion and access to the labour market for the Roma is that they be given equal social and political rights; calls on the Member States and candidate countries, in this connection, to establish a strategy to improve the participation of the Roma in elections as voters and candidates at all levels;

27.

Endorses the importance of micro-credits, which are recommended from various points of view in the Commission Communication on a Renewed Social Agenda and the EESC Opinion and which, by providing a minimal resource, can set the poorest people on the road to achieving personal responsibility and business skills and developing their creative powers, including by providing credit to cover the cost of self-employment;

28.

Supports the proposal by the EU institutions that, with request to the principle of equal treatment, the number of Roma working in public services should be increased; points out, however, that in order to make this possible it is necessary not only for governments to pursue personnel and labour-force training policies which promote it but also to make special efforts and provide active support to facilitate public acceptance of the principle;

29.

Stresses that, inter alia, the social market, health care, domestic help, the public catering and the provision of services in support of child care may create new jobs for the Roma who are unemployed, particularly women; reaffirms, however, that the social market requires a permanent link between the provider and the user of services and that, therefore, an increase in the employment of the Roma in those fields is possible only in a context of social acceptance, but that such employment also promotes social acceptance;

30.

Calls on the Member States to take appropriate measures to eliminate racial hatred and incitement to discrimination and violence against the Roma in the media and in every form of communication technology, and urges the mass media to establish good practices with respect to staff recruitment in such a way as to reflect the make-up of the population as a whole;

31.

Observes that Roma women are often actors in the informal economy and have a very low employment rate and considers that, to overcome multiple discrimination, high unemployment and poverty, targeted policies should focus on creating real access to the labour market for Roma women, which is a prerequisite for improving their social and family status;

32.

Considers that the employment of Roma women should also be promoted by means of employment-friendly operation of social support systems and appropriate training and specialisation opportunities, to prepare them in the long term for work from which they can earn a living and make it possible to reconcile family life and work; calls on Member States to adopt measures which help to increase child-care opportunities for Roma children even if their mother is at home with her other children;

33.

Stresses that better housing and health-care services could improve Roma women’s access to the labour market and increase their chances of keeping their jobs for longer;

34.

Points out that social and employment policies should contribute to the individual potentials and needs of citizens and create more opportunities for the largest pool of labour such as older people, people with disabilities and poor, unskilled people, including the Roma;

35.

Points out that the multiple discrimination faced by Roma women should also be recognised and specifically addressed in policies targeting Roma women that could have a double, long-term positive impact on them and other family members, in particular children;

36.

Opposes the view that subsidies designed to help the long-term unemployed (including many Roma) to find work, whether paid to employers or employees, violate the principle of competitive neutrality, as the reintegration of the Roma is a social policy objective, the pursuit of which requires that subsidised market positions be created; expresses the view that subsidising jobs on the labour market in order to reintegrate Roma workers is preferable to subsidising the long-term unemployed;

37.

Recognises that some traditional Roma occupations, such as arts and crafts, can help both to preserve this community’s specific characteristics and improve its material situation and level of social integration, and considers it desirable to support some specific professional activities;

The struggle to survive on the margins of society

38.

Notes that among the European Union’s cultures, that of the Roma is marked by a strong family tradition; observes that the image of Roma families in public opinion features an emphasis on traditional gender roles, large numbers of children, cohabitation of several generations, the tendency of relatives to live in close proximity, and the extensive cultivation of relationships; considers, therefore, that in EU and Member State programmes for Roma families, it is necessary to build on the strengths of that natural support network;

39.

Highlights the importance of conserving and affirming the specific cultural characteristics of the Roma in order to protect their identity and reduce prejudice against them, and therefore considers it necessary for the Member States and the Commission to play a more active part in supporting the spiritual life of the Roma minority;

40.

Endorses the view in the EESC Opinion that Roma women have a low status in family hierarchy, marry early, often suffer domestic violence, and are often victims of prostitution and human trafficking;

41.

Considers, therefore, that EU and Member State programmes for the Roma should aim at individual emancipation from traditional hierarchies and the socioeconomic independence of members of Roma communities, in particular women;

42.

Points out that Roma children’s tendency to leave school early damages their personal education, their ability to integrate socially, and their opportunities on the labour market, whilst in the case of Roma women, their physical and psychological health and the fact that they leave school early also affects the health and schooling of their children, facilitating their social exclusion; therefore stresses the importance of services which increase awareness in the provision of information to Roma women;

43.

Urges the Member States to guarantee that existing and future legal frameworks include provisions for preventing and addressing the multiple forms of discrimination faced by Roma women in order to improve their socio-economic status and to ensure their access to high-quality health care, child care and education as preconditions for employment;

44.

Considers that the process of integration must be initiated at an early stage in life, in order effectively to provide alternatives to poverty and social exclusion; considers, therefore, that it is necessary to provide an institutional framework for community-based social and educational services for children and families which meet regional and personal needs, guaranteeing equal access to high-quality services; calls on the Commission, therefore, to provide particular support for programmes for the early integration of Roma children in all countries where EU resources such as the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance or the Structural and Cohesion Funds, can be accessed;

45.

Notes that Roma children are over-represented in special schools and that a large proportion of them are assigned to such schools without justification, mostly on account of discrimination; points out that forcing children who have been unlawfully classed as ‘mentally disabled’ to attend special schools is discriminatory and seriously violates their fundamental right to high-quality education and gives rise to difficulties in further study and in finding work and to a greater likelihood of inactivity on the labour market, at the same time forming a burden on budgets;

46.

Endorses the suggestion in the EESC Opinion that, in the interests of the development of young children, complex forms of aid are required which are aimed at the whole family and which, while geared to the needs of the family, provide tailor-made practical assistance, such as the ‘sure start’ programme;

47.

Endorses the view expressed in the EESC Opinion that, due to its demographic characteristics, the Roma community has asymmetrical access to social benefits; stresses that social benefits are intended to counterbalance the burdens or lacks arising from individual life situation, the commitment of looking after children and other socially useful commitments;

48.

Endorses the recommendation in the EESC Opinion that in order to promote participation in the official labour market supplementary support should be provided to those changing jobs; stresses that declared work must be rendered desirable to both employees and employers;

49.

Stresses that the part of their active lives which Roma have spent in a state of exclusion hinders their access to health-care services and is responsible for their situation in old age; stresses also that starting work at an early age, frequent unemployment, a lack of employment protection, invisible work performed in the informal economy, which is often physically onerous, while there is no pension cover arising from such periods of employment, all act to prevent Roma from drawing proper pensions and from leading a dignified old age;

50.

Recommends that the Commission take the initiative to identify the most efficient ways of supporting the social, economic and cultural integration of the largest minority in the European Union, and stresses the need for cooperation between the Commission and the Member State governments in order to take specific action aimed at resolving the complex transnational problems of the Roma;

Conclusions

51.

Considers that preserving the Roma language and culture is a Community value; does not, however, endorse the idea that the Roma should be members of a stateless ‘European nation’ because this would absolve Member States of their responsibility and call into question the possibility of integration;

52.

Draws the attention of Member States to the risk that adopting excessive measures as regards Roma communities could lead to a worsening of the minority’s already dramatic situation and could jeopardise their chances of integration;

53.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Roma communities and leaders in order to develop a jointly acceptable plan for the social inclusion of the Roma, to be implemented in close partnership;

54.

Calls on the Member States to design and implement projects intended to combat negative stereotypes of the Roma at all levels which can be supported by the Structural and Cohesion Funds and also by specific programmes such as Progress and initiatives such as the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogues and the forthcoming 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion;

55.

Observes that whereas the improvement of the social and economic situation of the Roma was a significant consideration in the enlargement process, progress has generally been limited; calls on the Member States and the Commission to review previous and existing programmes and initiatives and evaluate their results; considers that the European Union has a duty to coordinate instruments of social inclusion better and more closely and that such coordination should help combat poverty, promote Roma access to better, longer-lasting and more stable employment, pave the way for efforts to render social inclusion and protection systems more effective, and be a means of analysing political experience and mutual learning and create a system for coherent analysis of best practices;

56.

Calls on the Commission to assess specifically the impact of the objectives and instruments of each of its sectoral policies on the Roma, along with developing a coherent political strategy and achieving a high level of coordination; calls on the Commission to ask Member States, in reports on integrated indicators and on the open method of coordination for social inclusion, to devote attention to changing the situation of the Roma; calls on the Commission to monitor the extent of discrimination, regularly assess the situation of the Roma with regard to the changes in the education, employment, social, health and housing in the Member States and in the candidate countries;

57.

Calls on the Commission to ask the Member States to adopt clear employment policies for disadvantaged groups, including the active Roma population, as soon as possible, with support measures to facilitate their phased integration into the labour market, measures that will combat the effects of dependence created by the social security system;

58.

Calls on the Commission to cooperate with the various international organisations and support the development of an academic network of Roma experts which would provide scientific data and support, through research, analysis, the accumulation of evidence and the drafting of recommendations, in order to analyse the issues related to the integration of the Roma question, decide agendas, describe Roma issues with due seriousness on the basis of the summary reports drawn up by those organisations, and draw up an overall EU assessment at least every two years;

59.

Criticises the Member States that have not yet ratified the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities; calls on those Member States to ratify the Convention urgently; calls on the Member States that have issued restrictive declarations under the Framework Convention affecting the recognition of the Roma as a national minority to withdraw those declarations;

60.

Recommends that Member States

(a)

create an EU-level expert group including representatives of the Roma to coordinate Member States’ Roma strategy and the use of EU funds for its promotion;

(b)

establish partnerships between the various organisations representing Roma interests and the appropriate institutions of the Member States; and

(c)

devise instruments such as concessionary credit or public grants and that, in the planning of farm subsidies, make it an important objective to enable Roma citizens to attain conditions in which they can earn a living from farming; so that, in addition to or instead of seeking paid employment in farming, they would be open to the idea of seeking innovative forms of agricultural work, including social cooperatives, thus justifying the provision of the necessary resources;

61.

Considers that in some Member States the target groups (in Roma settlements or parts of settlements) can be reached effectively by using the ‘multiple disadvantages’ definition, but that it is difficult to reach smaller units such as the family and the individual through those target groups;

62.

Considers, however, that the legal conditions should be established for the initiation of voluntary and anonymous data collection and the creation of a comparable database, with due regard for data protection and human rights protection rules and without resorting to methods which violate human dignity; considers that the Commission should propose the requisite amendments to legislation;

63.

Calls on the Commission to facilitate the drawing-up, verification and confirmation of a portfolio of best practices in programmes for the Roma, as regards, inter alia, housing, education and employment, following analyses carried out by an independent body;

64.

Considers that creating the database is not an alternative but a precondition for a system of assessment and evaluation which can balance the impact of exchanges of best experiences and of the use of resources; believes that, to this end, an indicator system is needed which extends to all areas of life and can be used by everybody, which, in addition to output and input indicators for programmes, also concerns the use of social result and impact indicators, including as a condition for financing; recommends, therefore, that the Commission establish such a system of indicators in the Framework Regulation on Structural Funds and in the regulations relating to other types of public grant;

65.

Recommends that the Commission adopt more consistent and uniform expectations of all development programmes financed from EU resources from which it is possible to demand an account of the prevention or reversal of social exclusion of the Roma; considers that Member State and EU bodies should examine all development which is financed from the Structural and Cohesion Funds from the point of view of the impact which the programme has on the social integration of the Roma; recommends further that in the case of every programme at the selection stage priority should be assigned to those developments which are also designed to improve the situation of the Roma living in particularly disadvantaged settlements and those who are poor and unemployed;

66.

Calls the Commission, in cooperation with each Member State, to develop and implement a wide-reaching information campaign addressed to the general public and the Roma about Member State programmes for improving the living conditions of the Roma and their implementation on an ongoing basis;

67.

Calls on the Commission to monitor, on an ongoing basis, measures and activities and their impacts on the improvement of the position of the Roma in the labour market;

68.

Would like resources on which decisions are taken at EU level to be used, inter alia, for targeted programmes that also involve experts from organisations with experience in this area who would provide support and advice, to counterbalance Roma disadvantages in education and qualifications; considers that the Member States, in allocating EU funds and their own funds, should, when deciding on the funding of fields other than early development and public education, give consideration to whether local government bodies, organisations, etc., which have applied for support, have complied with their obligations to eliminate segregation;

69.

Calls the Commission to encourage national authorities to cease the discriminatory practice of evicting occupants of Roma slums and instead develop concrete housing projects with the support of the technical expertise and monitoring mechanisms of, inter alia, the Commission, the World Bank and NGOs focusing on the Roma; believes that solving the housing problems of Roma living in rural areas must be a priority and should become a matter of special concern and an area for action;

70.

Calls on the Commission to devote particular attention not only to civil society organisations but also to the Roma’s capacity for organising themselves and providing support for integration policy, to support the development of communities particularly by means of projects which increase Roma participation in the decision-making process and their responsibility for decisions taken in concert with them;

71.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States in cooperation with NGOs focusing on the Roma to examine existing policies and programmes in order to draw lessons from the failed projects of the past;

72.

Calls on the Commission to support NGOs focusing on Roma at EU, national or local level, in order to monitor the implementation of policies and programmes targeting the Roma, as well as Community education for democracy and human rights;

73.

Proposes that the Commission and the Member States establish an EU-wide forum in which social movements, trade unions and NGOs representing the Roma and their interests can consult one another on an on-going basis in order to draw up guidelines and exchange best practices, with a view to promoting a coordinated approach at EU level;

74.

Calls on the Member States to be more proactive in encouraging the transfer of jobs to where the Roma communities are situated and in encouraging Roma to move to where the jobs are situated;

75.

Reminds Member States and the Commission that while social welfare has a key role to play in supporting and strengthening disadvantaged communities such as the Roma, the promotion of self help is also important; considers that a culture of independence, rather than dependence, should be the long-term aim;

76.

Considers that much greater priority should be given to the provision of local jobs and the encouragement of entrepreneurship and local artisans, as well as the development of the basic skills to fulfil them, so that greater wealth as well as greater self-worth may develop;

*

* *

77.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and the parliaments of the Member States and the candidate countries.


(1)  OJ C 45 E, 23.2.2006, p. 129.

(2)  OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 283.

(3)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0035.

(4)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0361.

(5)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0467.

(6)  OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.

(7)  OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.

(8)  Texts adopted, P6_ΤΑ(2008)0286.

(9)  OJ C 102 Ε, 24.4.2008, p. 321.

(10)  OJ C 27, 3.2.2009, p. 88.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/70


Wednesday 11 March 2009
Facing oil challenges

P6_TA(2009)0118

European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on possible solutions to the challenges in relation to oil supply (2008/2212(INI))

2010/C 87 E/13

The European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission Communication of 10 January 2007 entitled An energy policy for Europe (COM(2007)0001),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 June 2008 entitled Facing the challenge of higher oil prices (COM(2008)0384),

having regard to Council Directive 73/238/EEC of 24 July 1973 on measures to mitigate the effects of difficulties in the supply of crude oil and petroleum products (1),

having regard to Council Decision 77/706/EEC of 7 November 1977 on the setting of a Community target for a reduction in the consumption of primary sources of energy in the event of difficulties in the supply of crude oil and petroleum products (2),

having regard to Council Directive 2006/67/EC of 24 July 2006 imposing an obligation on Member States to maintain minimum stocks of crude oil and/or petroleum products (3),

having regard to the Commission proposal of 13 November 2008 for a Council directive imposing an obligation on Member States to maintain minimum stocks of crude oil and/or petroleum products (COM(2008)0775),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 November 2008 on the Second Strategic Energy Review: an EU energy security and solidarity action plan (COM(2008)0781),

having regard to the Green Paper of 12 November 2008‘Towards a secure, sustainable and competitive European energy network’ (COM(2008)0782),

having regard to its resolution of 15 February 2007 on the macro-economic impact of the increase in the price of energy (4),

having regard to its resolution of 29 September 2005 on oil dependency (5),

having regard to its resolution of 19 June 2008 on the crisis in the fisheries sector caused by rising fuel prices (6),

having regard to the Presidency Conclusions on energy security of the European Council of 15 and 16 October 2008,

having regard to the Presidency Conclusions on the policy implications of high food and oil prices of the European Council of 19 and 20 June 2008,

having regard to the World Energy Outlook 2008 of the International Energy Agency (IEA),

having regard to exploratory opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 14 January 2009 on possible solutions to the challenges in relation to oil supply (7),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A6-0035/2009),

A.

whereas increasing attention will have to be paid at European level to the diversification of energy supply routes and sources, energy savings and energy efficiency in order to guarantee the security of energy supply in the coming decades,

B.

whereas it is becoming ever more urgent to develop a coherent and comprehensive Community energy policy in order to ensure security of supply at a time when the European Union is becoming increasingly dependent on imports,

C.

whereas oil is a finite resource,

D.

whereas oil production by the European Union and Norway still made a contribution towards meeting domestic demand of more than 30 % in 2007,

E.

whereas many oil resources, some of them easily extractable, are at present not fully accessible in many countries of the world owing to environmental measures or in the context of resource management and the costs of oil extraction have doubled since 2005 owing to the general rise in the cost of raw materials and equipment,

F.

whereas according to calculations by the United States Energy Information Administration, worldwide demand for oil will be more than a third higher in 2030 than it was in 2006 and demand in the European Union will rise by an average of 0.25 % per year between 2005 and 2030, chiefly due to increased demand in the transport sector, which means that oil’s share of primary energy demand in the European Union in 2030 will stand at 35 %,

G.

whereas the European Union’s dependence on oil imports will rise to 95 % by 2030, whilst at the same time conventional oil reserves will be increasingly concentrated in the countries in the strategic ellipse,and growing competition in demand could create uncertainties in supply,

H.

whereas rising oil prices are to be expected in the long term,

I.

whereas the rise of inflation, triggered by hikes in the price of oil and basic commodities has provoked an erosion of purchasing power,

J.

whereas the price fluctuations in 2008 cannot be attributed solely to supply and demand at that particular point in time and are having negative effects on the economy,

K.

whereas the development of new investment vehicles on the market for oil and other basic commodities has amplified the price volatility of those commodities; and whereas there is a need to ensure greater transparency in energy markets,

1.

Notes that the question of security of energy supply has again become the central issue in the above-mentioned Commission Communication on the Second Strategic Energy Review; regrets, however, that the Commission has not learnt lessons from the economic crisis, which has shown that only a complete shift in EU energy policy will lead to a solution as regards security of supply, and solidarity among Member States, and to employment, and in social, environmental and economic issues; regrets further the lack to date of a clear commitment to further change in energy policy and structure;

2.

Stresses that, in addition to short-term measures to secure supply, account should also be taken of the long-term outlook;

3.

Calls on the Commission to focus more on analysing the indirect as well as the direct impact of proposed measures on security of supply and costs when preparing legislative proposals;

Exploitation of existing resources

4.

Notes that, according to various estimates, it will still be possible to extract sufficient oil to meet demand in the coming decades, even though new extraction methods are likely to lead to higher oil prices; notes that this in turn will stimulate energy efficiency behaviour and will promote alternative fuels such as second generation biofuels and hydrogen, and the use of electric cars; notes also that the conditions of investment must be improved, and stresses further in this regard that the sustained demand for oil has increasingly pushed supply to capacity limits;

5.

Points to the uncertainty surrounding the question of when and to what extent a gap will develop between mounting demand and falling supply; is concerned that this uncertainty will increasingly be reflected in growing oil price volatility; is therefore convinced that all measures that could reduce demand for fossil energy sources should be vigorously pursued;

6.

Supports the Commission’s proposal for short-term measures to be taken if necessary to mitigate future oil price spikes; calls on Member States to provide financial support for investments in alternative energy sources such as renewable energy, and to prioritise consumer awareness measures promoting the purchase of energy-efficient goods and services in order to minimise long-term expense as well as to mitigate a future decrease in oil supply;

7.

Calls for an intensification of efforts to make unconventional oil resources commercially viable, and in this way to contribute to diversification, provided that environmentally friendly extraction processes are developed and then used; stresses that a life-cycle approach concerning greenhouse gas emissions from fuels placed on the EU market, as introduced in the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 98/70/EC as regards the specification of petrol, diesel and gas-oil and introducing a mechanism to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the use of road transport fuels and amending Council Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the specifications of fuels used by inland waterway vessels and repealing Directive 93/12/EEC (COM(2007)0018), will provide a real incentive for the oil industry to reduce its share of the impact on climate change by improving its production processes;

8.

Believes that the use of oil and other carbon-intensive energy sources should be reduced, both through increased energy efficiency and by a shift to more carbon-neutral solutions, such as nuclear energy and energy derived from renewable sources;

9.

Takes the view that the extraction of existing resources is increasingly being hampered by political factors, including political instability, insufficient legal protection, but also environmental measures and resource management; calls, therefore, on the Commission to step up the dialogue with producing countries at all levels and to seek pragmatic solutions to disputes in the interests of both parties;

10.

Calls on the Commission, in dialogue with the oil companies and producer countries, to seek ways in which steady investment can be secured despite fluctuating prices and profits;

11.

Expects petroleum companies to reinvest their substantial recent profits in exploration and development of new oil reserves and in promoting energy saving technology and research into oil substitutes (notably for transport applications);

12.

Urges a more dynamic relationship between the European Union and the oil-producing countries involving a willingness to give as well as take on both sides and aiming towards a more stable and steady supply and pricing environment for oil, which would be in the interests of all parties concerned and the world economy at large;

13.

Welcomes the Commission’s initiative to have a global political dialogue in the form of a high-level summit between oil-consuming and oil-producing countries in order to establish a fair balance between supply and demand on the oil market and to prevent oil-producing countries from maintaining oil prices at artificially high levels;

Market transparency and pricing

14.

Is concerned at the increasing oil price volatility, which was a striking feature in 2008 and has a negative effect on the whole European Union economy and its consumers;

15.

Takes the view that fluctuations in the price of oil reflect an increased demand for oil, progressive depletion of oil reserves, changes in demographic and urbanisation trends, especially in emerging economies, where the rise in average income is causing an increase in demand, speculation on the commodity markets, and global economic cycles; stresses also that oil and other commodities have been increasingly used for portfolio diversification as a result of the depreciation of the US dollar;

16.

Expresses its concern at the volatility of oil prices and its impact on economic and financial stability; while recognising the benefits of active markets in oil and other energy products, urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure the highest practicable level of transparency in energy markets;

17.

Recognises that the economies of oil exporters are also damaged by such volatility and a stabilisation of oil prices is therefore in the interest of both sides;

18.

Welcomes the Commission’s Communication of 13 June 2008 on facing the challenge of higher oil prices and echoes its concern over the recent oil price volatility and the negative effects thereof on inflation, competitiveness, trade and economic growth;

19.

Considers that the main reason for the oil price rise in the past eight years lies with a strong growth in demand that has led to bottlenecks in the extraction, transport and refining of oil and to large windfall profits made by a few big oil oligopolies; recognises that the marked rise in prices for raw materials and speculative transactions on the financial markets have heightened the trend in oil prices;

20.

Highlights the need to prioritise the monitoring of competition in the processing and sale of oil and petroleum products and to increase the transparency of data on commercial oil stocks;

21.

Considers it vital to improve market transparency in order to stabilise oil prices; calls on the Commission to submit corresponding proposals to Parliament and the Council; points out that transparency must urgently be increased in the producer countries as well, and volumes of production and the level of reserves in particular must also be published in a transparent way; calls on the Commission and Member States to work towards greater transparency within the framework of their dialogues with producer countries;

22.

Welcomes, in this context, the proposal for a study on the usefulness and cost of a weekly publication of the level of oil stocks; calls on the Commission to incorporate the results of the study in its future legislative proposals for minimum oil stocks; stresses at the same time that transparency in this regard must be achieved worldwide;

23.

Points out that differing technical specifications for oil products in the main importing countries lead to market fragmentation that may play a key part in pushing up prices in the event of supply shortages; calls on the Commission to submit proposals outlining ways in which such constraints on market access can be removed;

24.

Takes the view that the function of strategic reserves is to respond to physical bottlenecks arising from supply shortages; for this reason and for reasons of sustainable budgetary policy, rejects all attempts to counter oil price volatility by using these reserves;

25.

Stresses the importance of actively working to make new alternative energy accessible to small businesses in order to make them less dependent on oil price fluctuations; recognises the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises in the production of biofuels and other forms of renewable energy; is concerned about the technical and regulatory barriers which still exist in the production and commercialisation of those products and calls upon the Commission to work towards facilitating market access for those fuels;

26.

Stresses that an effective emissions trading system and the adoption of a wide range of other energy saving measures should be important tools for stimulating the development of a wide-ranging, cutting-edge market for energy-efficient technologies and products; also underlines the importance of the application of the ‘polluter pays’ principle; recalls that the greater the number of countries that put similar policies in place, the more limited their impact on the sectoral competitiveness of those policies;

Investments in oil extraction and processing

27.

Notes that, according to the IEA, annual investments amounting to USD 350 billion are necessary in the oil industry by 2020 in order to guarantee security of supply; calls on the Commission and the Member States to provide incentives for investment in their corresponding policies, also and in particular within the European Union; highlights the role of long-term investment security in this connection; rejects, however, the notion of public money being substituted for private investments and capital;

28.

Is concerned at the effects of the current credit crisis on investment possibilities in the oil industry and calls on the Commission and Member States closely to coordinate their efforts to overcome the crisis;

29.

Welcomes the contribution that could be made by the increased use of biofuels in the transport sector, particularly in increasing security of supply; notes that this will lead to consolidation and restructuring in the oil-processing industry; notes further that structural measures must also be taken in the transport sector in order to minimise the demand for oil;

30.

Calls on the Member States and operators to ensure that, despite these developments, sufficient reserve capacities remain available in the European Union to offset bottlenecks arising from natural disasters, for example;

31.

Calls on the Member States, the Commission and oil companies to ensure adequate training for the specialists who are required for research into oil reserves and for oil production;

Transport routes

32.

Welcomes the results achieved within the framework of the INOGATE Programme, particularly in the field of confidence-building measures; calls on the Commission to draw up a strategy outlining how such projects can be supported through flanking measures and how coordination can be improved;

33.

Points to the crucial importance of good neighbourly relations among transit states and between them and their neighbouring countries and urges the Member States and the Commission to step up their efforts in this connection;

34.

Notes that oil pipelines have been excluded from the trans-European energy networks and calls on the Member States and the Commission to consider including oil infrastructure in the trans-European energy networks (TEN-E) in view of current developments, in particular falling domestic production and the simultaneous rise in dependence on imports and the need for new transport capacities;

35.

Calls on the Commission and Member States to work towards stabilisation, in particular in producer countries threatened by political instability, within the framework of the common foreign, trade and security policy, since stability provides the basis for investment and prosperity;

36.

Emphasises that new oil infrastructure projects such as the Odessa-Gdansk and Constanța-Trieste pipelines should continue to be high-priority projects of European interest;

37.

Is concerned at the growing piracy that threatens international shipping and hence oil transport, and welcomes the Council’s Joint Action (8) in this regard;

38.

Is also concerned at the threat to transport routes and strategic infrastructure posed by terrorism and calls on the Commission and Member States to step up the dialogue with key players;

Transport and buildings

39.

Points to the potential for energy savings in the buildings sector, which could reduce demand for fossil energy sources such as oil and gas, and welcomes the efforts currently being made by the Commission and the Member States to make even better use of this potential;

40.

Welcomes the European Union’s efforts to diversify energy sources in the transport sector; favours market-based approaches to the introduction of new technologies; recognises that price represents the best indicator for the competitiveness of new technologies; views as regrettable, however, the unambitious approach to exploiting the potential of energy-efficient, better-built, lighter vehicles;

41.

Expresses doubts regarding the medium- and long-term suitability of first-generation biofuels as a substitute for oil; calls for increased efforts in researching synthetic fuels;

42.

Is convinced that in the medium and long term the growth in oil consumption in the transport sector can be reduced only if the European Union and Member States take additional measures to shift transport and mobility towards more sustainable modes that consume little or no oil, such as rail, waterborne transport and intermodal mobility chains in urban areas (walking, cycling, public transport, vehicle sharing); is convinced, also, that considerable energy savings can be achieved through the more efficient use of modern traffic management systems to reduce delays and circuitous routes in road and air transport and shipping, and by intensifying efforts to promote green logistics;

Relations with countries with rising oil consumption

43.

Takes the view that increased account must be taken of energy policy matters in the European Union’s common external relations with countries whose energy consumption is rising sharply, and that the European Union must work towards cutting state subsidies for oil products;

44.

Calls on the Commission to include in its common foreign, trade and neighbourhood policy measures that can contribute towards progress being made worldwide in removing the link between economic growth and oil consumption;

45.

Points out, in particular, that the geopolitical impact of the changes in global conditions for international energy security and the consequences for future international governance policy have not yet been adequately considered and debated by the European Union; takes the view that a continued reliance on national solutions must give way to new and close forms of political and economic cooperation between the European Union, the United States, Russia and China, which must also be given institutional form in the medium term;

*

* *

46.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States.


(1)  OJ L 228, 16.8.1973, p. 1.

(2)  OJ L 292, 16.11.1977, p. 9.

(3)  OJ L 217, 8.8.2006, p. 8.

(4)  OJ C 287 E, 29.11.2007, p. 548.

(5)  OJ C 227 E, 21.9.2006, p. 580.

(6)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0308.

(7)  OJ C 182, 4.8.2009, p. 60.

(8)  Council Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP of 10 November 2008 on a European Union military operation to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast (OJ L 301, 12.11.2008, p. 33).


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/76


Wednesday 11 March 2009
Greening of transport and internalisation of external costs

P6_TA(2009)0119

European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on the greening of transport and the internalisation of external costs (2008/2240(INI))

2010/C 87 E/14

The European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission communication of 8 July 2008 entitled ‘Greening Transport’ (COM(2008)0433),

having regard to the Commission communication of 8 July 2008 entitled ‘Strategy for the internalisation of external costs’ (COM(2008)0435),

having regard to the Commission communication of 8 July 2008 entitled ‘Rail noise abatement measures addressing the existing fleet’ (COM(2008)0432),

having regard to its resolution of 12 July 2007 on keeping Europe moving – Sustainable mobility for our continent (1),

having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2008 on sustainable European transport policy, taking into account European energy and environment policies (2),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A6-0055/2009),

A.

whereas the European Union’s objectives are to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 %, increase the use of renewable energy sources to 20 % and reduce energy consumption by 20 %, all by 2020,

B.

whereas, as far as greening transport is concerned, the Commission has put forward a number of suggestions aimed at combating climate change, a communication on the internalisation of external costs for all modes of transport, a communication on rail noise abatement, and one specific legislative proposal revising the tolls applicable to heavy goods vehicles,

C.

whereas Article 11, third and fourth paragraphs, of the Eurovignette Directive (3) as amended in 2006 stipulated that: ‘No later than 10 June 2008, the Commission shall present, after examining all options including environment, noise, congestion and health-related costs, a generally applicable, transparent and comprehensible model for the assessment of all external costs to serve as the basis for future calculations of infrastructure charges. This model shall be accompanied by an impact analysis of the internalisation of external costs for all modes of transport and a strategy for a stepwise implementation of the model for all modes of transport. The report and the model shall be accompanied, if appropriate, by proposals to the European Parliament and the Council for further revision of this Directive’,

D.

whereas internalisation must be integrated into a more comprehensive policy to promote co-modality and a sustainable transport system and this policy must also include the promotion of research, funding of infrastructure, opening of markets and standardisation; whereas, nevertheless, these price signals will not in themselves be sufficient to change the behaviour of users unless the necessary alternatives are available to them (cleaner cars, alternative forms of transport, etc.),

E.

whereas the Commission has convincingly described the public health nuisance caused by rail noise; however as a cornerstone to its rail noise abatement initiative, it is merely setting out a requirement for freight wagons to be retrofitted with low-noise brakes,

Greening of transport

1.

Welcomes the Commission communication on greening transport as an important first partial step towards a more comprehensive approach making for more environmentally friendly transport in its many and varied modes as well as recognition of the importance and necessity of making transport more efficient in the context of combating climate change;

2.

Points out that mobility greatly benefits personal quality of life, growth and employment in the EU, socio-economic and territorial cohesion, trade with non-EU countries, and the firms and employees involved directly or indirectly in the transport sector and logistics;

3.

Recognises that, as well as having positive effects and being indispensable for the European Union’s economic development and socio-economic and territorial cohesion, mobility also entails adverse consequences for the natural environment and for people, and therefore maintains that European transport policy – without disregarding the legitimate interests of individuals and industry where mobility is concerned – should continue to aim to green the transport sector so as to cancel out, or at any rate reduce, the harmful effects of transport, in line with the Union’s objectives on combating global warming by 2020;

4.

Welcomes the fact that the Commission, in its communication, has compiled an ‘inventory’ of EU measures to date to promote a sustainable transport policy;

5.

Regrets that the Commission has failed to produce an integrated plan to green transport, that is to say, covering every transport sector; observes that the Commission has already taken preliminary initiatives which should ultimately lead to a comprehensive strategy for the internalisation of external costs in all modes of transport; but has so far instead:

adopted a piecemeal approach drawn up in a Handbook for estimating the external costs of transport and for their internalisation in individual sectors (see the ‘Handbook on estimation of external costs in the transport sector’),

has submitted a proposal to amend Directive 1999/62/EC (the Eurovignette Directive), which is intended to permit Member States to charge for the external costs arising from heavy goods vehicles, in line with Article 11 of that Directive,

proposed taxing the external costs caused by rail noise via noise-differentiated infrastructure charges;

6.

Calls on the Commission, therefore, where every mode of transport is concerned, to provide for the measures and instruments required to make transport greener, taking into account the international conventions in force and the measures already implemented in the various transport sectors; with reference to those proposals, to conduct scientifically sound assessments of the impact of the individual measures and their competition implications in terms of modes as well as their impact on the costs of mobility and competitiveness; and, proceeding from that basis, to submit an integrated plan for the greening of transport, together with specific legislative proposals;

Internalisation of external costs

7.

Notes that in its communication on the strategy for the internalisation of external costs, the Commission has failed to fulfil the obligation imposed on it by the Parliament and the Council, under the Article 11 of the amended Eurovignette Directive, since it has not – by its own admission – devised and put forward a generally applicable, transparent, and comprehensible model for the assessment of external costs as a whole, given that it has not analysed the impact on every mode of transport and, at the practical level, has produced only for heavy goods vehicles a first step for a strategy for the stepwise implementation of the model for all modes of transport;

8.

Notes that the Commission communication makes copious references to the Handbook published in January 2008 regarding the calculation of external costs, which brings together the most recent scientific knowledge concerning the calculation of external costs in the transport sector;

9.

Notes that the Commission, in its communication, has put forward scientifically coherent justifications for the charging of individual external costs to various modes of transport, and has adopted what it terms a ‘pragmatic approach based on the average cost’; generally supports the Commission’s basis of marginal social cost pricing, in line with the White Paper on Transport of 2001;

10.

Notes that in its communication and in the proposal for a directive amending Directive 1999/62/EC (the Eurovignette Directive), the Commission explicitly takes account of the ‘polluter pays’ principle laid down in Article 175(5) of the Treaty; calls on the Commission, however, in further steps with regard to the internalisation of external costs, to take account of all forms of internalisation of external costs which already exist, such as oil taxes and road tolls;

11.

Calls on the Commission, when putting forward further proposals to green the transport sector, to include assessments of the impact of competition between transport modes and associated social and environmental impacts, as was done with the proposal to amend Directive 1999/62/EC (the Eurovignette Directive), and to include the costs of mobility and competitiveness;

12.

Regrets the fact that the Commission has not proposed measures to mitigate the effects of increased remoteness arising from EU enlargement and has not made any forecasts regarding the consequences of its application, in particular in those Member States with geographical barriers and for those which do not as yet have multimodal alternatives; calls, therefore, on the Commission to remedy these shortcomings as part of the forthcoming review of the trans-European transport networks (TEN-T);

13.

Encourages the Commission, to this end, to submit a supplementary proposal for multimodal mobility corridors (‘green corridors’) as part of the review of the TEN-T, offsetting the burdens imposed by the present proposal by enabling accessibility and mobility without obstacles;

14.

Calls on the Commission to take steps without delay firstly, to produce specific proposals for all modes of transport and secondly, to perform the task deriving from Article 11 of the amended Eurovignette Directive by submitting a comprehensive plan for calculating and charging external costs and assessing their impact on the basis of a comprehensible model;

Rail noise abatement

15.

Recognises that in its communication on rail noise abatement measures for the existing fleet, the Commission has responded to the need to reduce the noise nuisance, from freight wagons in particular, for persons living by the side of railway lines;

16.

Underlines that the retrofitting of wagons at a reasonable cost presupposes the resolution of the existing technical obstacles, as well as the elimination of administrative burdens in the relevant certificates, as soon as possible and before the adoption of any binding legislative measure;

17.

Calls on the Commission to draw up a proposal for a directive with a view to introducing noise-related track access charges for locomotives and wagons in order to provide incentives as quickly as possible for railway undertakings to re-equip their fleets rapidly with low-noise vehicles by replacing brake blocks; considers that, if and wherever necessary, short-term measures may also be considered and that no legislative measure should have a negative impact on the rail sector in intermodal competition;

18.

Looks to the Commission to provide in its proposal for a practicable way of ensuring, through earmarking of revenue, that upgrading of this kind will not be confined to wagons belonging to railway undertakings, but will also extend to wagons of other companies carried by railway undertakings;

*

* *

19.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.


(1)  OJ C 175 E, 10.7.2008, p. 556.

(2)  Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2008)0087.

(3)  Directive 1999/62/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 1999 on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures (OJ L 187, 20.7.1999, p. 42).


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/79


Wednesday 11 March 2009
Input to Spring 2009 European Council on the Lisbon Strategy

P6_TA(2009)0120

European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on the input to the Spring 2009 European Council in relation to the Lisbon Strategy

2010/C 87 E/15

The European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission communication of 16 December 2008 entitled ‘Implementation report for the Community Lisbon Programme 2008-2010’ (COM(2008)0881) and the Commission Recommendation of 28 January 2009 for a Council recommendation on the 2009 up-date of the broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and the Community and on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies (COM(2009)0034),

having regard to the 27 National Lisbon Reform Programmes, as presented by the Member States,

having regard to the Commission communication of 3 October 2007 entitled ‘The European Interest: Succeeding in the age of globalisation - Contribution of the Commission to the October Meeting of Heads of State and Government’ (COM(2007)0581),

having regard to the Commission communication of 20 November 2007 a single market for 21st century Europe (COM(2007)0724),

having regard to the Commission communication of 16 December 2008 on the external dimension of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs - Reporting on market access and setting the framework for more effective international regulatory cooperation (COM(2008)0874),

having regard to the Commission communication of 16 December 2008 entitled ‘An updated strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training’ (COM(2008)0865),

having regard to the Commission communication of 16 December 2008 entitled ‘New Skills for New Jobs – Anticipating and matching labour market and skills needs’ (COM(2008)0868),

having regard to the Commission communication of 16 December 2008 entitled ‘Cohesion policy: investing in the real economy’ (COM(2008)0876),

having regard to the Commission communication of 26 November 2008 entitled ‘A European Economic Recovery Plan’ (COM(2008)0800),

having regard to the Commission proposal of 16 December 2008 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 on establishing the Globalisation Adjustment Fund (COM(2008)0867),

having regard to the European Council’s conclusions of 23 and 24 March 2000, 23 and 24 March 2001, 22 and 23 March 2005, 27 and 28 October 2005, 23 and 24 March 2006, 8 and 9 March 2007 and 13 and 14 March 2008,

having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2007 on the European Interest: succeeding in the age of globalisation (1),

having regard to its resolution of 20 February 2008 on the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (Part: broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and the Community): Launching the new cycle (2008-2010) (2),

having regard to its resolution of 18 November 2008 on the EMU@10: The first ten years of Economic and Monetary Union and future challenges (3),

having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

Financial crisis and economic and social impacts

1.

Notes that the global financial crisis stemming from global macro-economic imbalances and a worldwide credit crisis has inflicted serious damage on financial systems all over the world, including the European Union; notes also that the global financial crisis has brought massive destruction of equity market capitalisation all over the world, that its negative effects on ‘real economies’ are profound and, in particular, that the implications for employment and the social situation are far-reaching; underlines that financial markets are of crucial importance to the ‘real economy’ and that one of the priorities – besides safeguarding employment – for growth and employment is to get capital flowing again, providing credits and financing to investments, which calls for renewed confidence and trust, through clear commitments and government guarantees, as well as better implemented supervision, covering all financial markets in a global perspective, and regulations supporting responsible provision of credits to the markets;

2.

Recommends that the short-term measures applied to counterbalance the immediate direct consequences of the crisis and minimise the negative effects on the real economy, and the recovery packages must be followed by a coordinated short- and long-term action plan that would bring the EU economies to a stable growth path and protect against similar crises in the future;

3.

Recalls that, in its resolution of 20 February 2008 on the input for the 2008 Spring Council as regards the Lisbon Strategy (4), Parliament already pointed to the overriding importance of safeguarding the stability of financial markets, noted that the recent subprime crisis shows the need for the European Union to develop oversight measures in order to strengthen the transparency and stability of the financial markets and better protect customers, requested an evaluation of the current systems and instruments of prudential supervision in Europe and insisted on close consultation with Parliament, leading to clear recommendations on how to improve the stability of the financial system and its ability to provide secure long-term finance for European business;

4.

Stresses that financial markets are, and will remain, at the core of functioning social market economies, that they are meant to provide financing for the ‘real economy’ and also to infuse efficiency in resource allocation and that they are also meant to provide economies with the means to prosper, which in turn have made it possible for citizens to make sustained gains in their living standards in the past decades; stresses that fully reliable, efficient and transparent financial markets are prerequisites for a healthy and innovative growth-and-jobs-creating European economy;

5.

Stresses that the financial crisis has created an opportunity where the need for innovation as a motor for the economy can no longer be ignored; the time is right to create the dynamic knowledge-based economy Europe set out to build some eight years ago; it is time to create the most energy-efficient economy that has the potential to transform the world and ensure European prosperity and international competitiveness for decades to come. It is time to stimulate innovative industries, with the capacity to bring new growth to Europe;

6.

Recognises the positive results of rescue measures adopted to avoid additional damage to the fiscal system; calls, nevertheless, for a new financial architecture through the establishment of transparent and effective regulation which is in the best interest of consumers, enterprises and employees; calls for further legislative proposals as well as international agreements that can tackle excessive risk-taking, leveraging and economic short-termism as basic sources of the crisis; reminds the Commission of its obligation to respond to Parliament’s requests concerning the regulation of hedge funds and private equity and expects legislative proposals in the short term;

7.

Stresses the urgent need to ensure that the financial sector, which benefited from public support, provides companies, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and households with sufficient credit; insists that rescue plans must contain binding conditions with regard to dividend distribution as well as lending practices;

8.

Warns against a vicious circle of lower investments and lower consumer spending, leading to job cuts, downsized business plans and less innovation, which is likely to push the EU into a deep and longer-lasting recession; stresses that a coordinated European response is crucial in this context to avoid the crisis leading to a sum of conflicting national plans for financial stability and economic recovery, with potential conflicts and costs, undermining the internal market, economic stability and the Economic and Monetary Union, as well as the European Union’s role as global economic actor;

9.

Expects joint action to overcome the effects of the financial crisis on the real economy; calls for the setting of benchmarks with regard to future employment and growth rates, which should then help to determine the size and components of the European Economic Recovery Plan; calls, in this context, for the development – in the framework of the growth and stability pact and its rules of flexibility – of a coherent European strategy for future investments (e.g. in qualified and skilled human capital to allow technological breakthroughs and development, innovation, energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructures, communication technologies, interconnection and services including health services, and opportunities for business life, not least for SMEs to invest in new products and markets), the safeguarding of jobs and income, as well as better coordination of economic and social policies;

10.

Takes the view that energy from renewable sources, energy efficiency and the environment can act as a strategic focus for stimulus measures, which will create high quality green jobs and give Europe’s industry a first-mover advantage over other regions of the world that have yet to seize the initiative;

11.

Takes the view that only a policy which combines the fight against growing unemployment and poverty in the short term with preparing the ground for the transition of our economy towards sustainability in the longer term can bring about a longer-lasting solution which takes its inspiration from the sustainability strategy agreed in Gothenburg, which has been declared part of the Lisbon Strategy;

12.

Stresses that the European Union’s top priority must be to protect its citizens from the effects of the financial crisis as they are most strongly affected whether as workers, members of households, or entrepreneurs; takes the view that many workers and their families are or will be hit by the crisis and that action needs to be taken to help stem the loss of jobs and to help people return rapidly to the labour market, rather than face long-term unemployment; expects the 2009 Spring European Council to agree on clear guidance and concrete measures to safeguard employment and create job opportunities;

13.

Considers that among the impacts of the economic crisis the rise of poverty in the European Union is the greatest concern; considers it essential to halt the current rise in unemployment in the European Union; points out that the most efficient way of reducing and preventing poverty is through a strategy based on the goals of full employment, high-quality jobs, social inclusion, measures to encourage entrepreneurship, and activities to boost the role of SMEs and investments; recalls that a strategy to address exclusion from the labour market should be based on adequate living standards and income support, inclusive labour markets as well as access to high-quality services and education; considers, therefore, that employment must be supported by actions for entrepreneurs, SMEs and investments, as well as initiatives to help people in re-entering the labour market; considers that a special priority in this respect should be retraining the unemployed and providing education aimed at creating a skilled and specialised workforce; considers that the principle of solidarity is fundamental to the European construction process, that Community financing should be made available to Member States in respect of schemes aimed at preventing the excessive loss of jobs, retraining workers and endowing non-skilled people with skills; considers that labour regulation needs to be developed in order to achieve a higher degree of flexibility and security within the labour market as well as in getting a new job; considers that Community financial instruments, such as the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, must be revamped so that they can be deployed efficiently and in a timely manner, in relation to large sectors of the economy that are shedding jobs; welcomes the Commission’s proposal to simplify the criteria for the European Social Fund and refocus activities towards the most vulnerable;

14.

Points out that SMEs, which form the keystone of Europe’s economy, are particularly hard hit by the current economic downturn; stresses that the credit squeeze has hit the SME sector hardest, since it is the part of the economy that relies most on short-term working capital, usually provided through credits; points out that lack of capital, coupled with a generalised slump in demand is forcing SMEs to retreat on all fronts; points out that the current hardships of SMEs, as the largest contributors to GDP and the largest employer in the European Union, have the furtherst-reaching consequences as regards the European Union as a whole, and, in particular, as regards the most vulnerable and affected regions; stresses, furthermore, the importance of rapidly implementing the Small Business Act in general and, in particular, provisions for credits to SMEs through European Investment Bank (EIB) action;

15.

Stresses that sufficient, affordable and reasonably secure access to finance is a decisive precondition for investment and growth; believes that, in the current economic climate, the Small Business Act and its objectives are now more important than ever, as SMEs offer untapped potential for economic growth and for creating and sustaining jobs, and provide an opportunity for political leadership and the underpinning of confidence in Europe’s enterprise sector;

16.

Points out that, for sustained growth, Europe needs a healthy, dynamic and skilled labour force; and that this is unfortunately undermined, inter alia, by negative population growth in most Member States; considers that an effective childcare infrastructure, as agreed at the European Council of 15 and 16 March 2002, is an important catalyst for reconciling work and family life; considers that the development of child care, based on families, makes it easier for women as well as men to take part in working life and raise families; points out that increasing women’s employment not only leads to the growth of the economy as a whole but also contributes to alleviating the demographic challenges that are facing Europe today; considers that solidarity between generations must be stimulated to gain more potential from existing labour force;

17.

Insists nonetheless, that Member States must revamp their immigration policies, so as to aim to specifically attract, in a targeted manner, highly skilled immigrants who meet the demands of the European labour market, building on the United States’ experience in this area, and taking care to cooperate with the countries of origin in order to avoid a brain drain; considers that education policy should be aimed more at attracting foreign researchers and students, who stay in the European Union for longer periods of time (e.g. the Erasmus Mundus programme, 2007-2012); considers that one of the crucial prerequisites for creating the world’s leading knowledge-based economy is that all Member States guarantee and protect the basic rights of legal migrants and provide them access to common European values and respect for cultural diversity;

Citizens’ needs and necessary responses

18.

Notes that, owing to the current crisis, there are a number of key priorities of the Lisbon Strategy, the implementation of which should be pursued by the European institutions with increased urgency: promoting regional and local competitiveness and adhering to the competition rules, as well as promoting consumer policies to make markets more efficient and equitable, taking advantage of the internal market, particularly in retailing and services; frontloading the implementation of the Small Business Act, in particular the rapid implementation of Directive 2000/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 June 2000 on combating late payment in commercial transactions (5) and the rapid adoption and implementation of the Commission proposal of 25 June 2008 for a Council regulation on the Statute for a European private company (COM(2008)0396), moving forward quickly with the implementation of the European Research Area and the ‘fifth freedom’ proposals to improve the free circulation of knowledge and innovation by boosting knowledge transfer within the scope of education, research and development (R&D) and industrial production; the adoption of the cost-effective Community Patent and EU-wide Patent Court system, which would significantly improve the competitiveness of European businesses, facilitating companies’ access to financing and stimulating innovation;

19.

Takes the view that the European Union should pursue a common fundamental goal to create employment opportunities and thus prevent mass unemployment; considers that that goal should therefore determine the magnitude and components of the European Economic Recovery Plan; considers that solidarity is indispensable with a view to ensuring that the European Economic Recovery Plan and accompanying measures have the most positive impact on labour markets in Europe; stresses the need for additional efforts to support the most vulnerable groups in society;

20.

Strongly advocates a labour market policy that encourages labour market access for all and promotes lifelong learning; calls on the Member States and the social partners to reach innovative agreements to keep people employed; supports, inter alia, the reduction of social charges on lower incomes to promote the employability of lower-skilled workers and the introduction of innovative solutions (e.g. service cheques for household and child care, hire subsidies for vulnerable groups), which have already been successfully pioneered in some Member States; expects exchanges of best practices in this respect;

21.

Stresses the need to strengthen the effectiveness of consumer protection rules in order to respond to the strong expectations of citizens of the Union, in particular with regard to financial products; encourages Member States to establish policies which support the most severely hit victims of the financial crisis;

22.

Stresses the importance of ensuring free movement and mobility on the labour market without delay, while insisting on the need to guarantee equal pay for equal work and full respect for collective bargaining and the role of trade unions, including their right to collective action; stresses that the removal of barriers to mobility on the European labour market allows greater protection for the European workforce; notes that the European Union must make an effort to explain to citizens the benefits of an approach that effectively combines enlargement, integration, solidarity and labour mobility;

23.

Notes that some Member States have introduced the concept of a minimum wage; suggests that other Member States might benefit from studying their experience; calls on the Member States to safeguard the preconditions for social and economic participation for all and, in particular, to provide for regulations on such matters as minimum wages or other legal and generally binding arrangements or through collective agreements in accordance with national traditions that enable full-time workers to make a decent living from their earnings;

24.

Believes the financial crisis provides the opportunity for necessary reforms, with an emphasis on sound economic fundamentals, ranging from appropriate investment in education and skills to quality in public finances and an environment that nurtures innovation and job creation; considers that sustainable growth and job creation in the European Union increasingly depends on excellence and innovation as the main drivers of European competitiveness;

25.

Calls on the European Union and its Member States to take swift action to promote growth and jobs and to strengthen demand and consumer confidence; considers a smart growth initiative focusing on the Lisbon Strategy goals such as investments in the ‘knowledge triangle’ (comprising education, research and innovation), green technologies, energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructures and communication technologies to be essential in this context; underlines the synergy effects of such an initiative with regard to future competitiveness, the labour market and the protection of the environment and resources;

26.

Stresses that Member States should continue the reform of labour markets to create more jobs and education systems in order to help raise skill levels, considers that Member States should also continue efforts to encourage productivity growth through more investment in education; stresses also that meeting the challenges of innovation and its dissemination as well as ensuring the labour force’s employability and flexibility requires improved education and training, as well as lifelong learning; points out, however, that the current investment in human capital in Europe is still clearly inadequate for a ‘knowledge-intensive’ economy;

27.

Stresses that the current crisis must not be used as a pretext to delay a much needed reorientation of spending towards ‘green’ investments, but should rather be understood as an extra incentive to press ahead with the much needed ecological conversion of the industry; is convinced that the economic case for tackling climate change is clear and every step to delay the necessary action will ultimately lead to greater costs;

28.

Calls on the Member States to revise their budgets and to invest in smart growth projects, thereby making full use of the revised Stability and Growth Pact;

29.

Stresses that Member States’ economies are highly interdependent; stresses, therefore, the need for more effective coordination and improved governance, which is even more pressing in times of crisis; points out that the argument for more cooperation is strongest in the euro area; refers to its recommendations in the framework of the EMU@10 resolution in this context; expects from the Commission clear and strong guidance towards an improved coordinated approach amongst all Member States;

30.

Believes that ditching the fight against climate change and putting environmental investments on hold would be a devastating mistake which would have both an immediate and an inter-generational impact;

Europe’s scope for action

31.

Stresses the need to strengthen the social dimension of the European and national recovery plans; calls on the Commission to monitor and make proposals on the social impact of the financial crisis, especially on social exclusion, poverty and pensions, up to the 2009 Spring European Council;

32.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the European Social Fund’s main funding scheme is mainly directed towards retraining and increased employability as well as social inclusion activities in order to overcome the negative social effects of the crisis; recalls that the focus should be on those most remote from the labour market;

33.

Points out that we need a Green New Deal for Europe, which tackles the economic, environmental and social crisis: job creation in the sector of manufacturing and industry-related need to be complemented by massive investment in social services, in particular education and health, by creating better conditions for teaching our children and students, and by massively increasing the number of teachers and improving the physical conditions for learning, all of which is an investment that will pay back in the future;

34.

Points out that such a Green New Deal investment should also aim for efficiency gains and substitution for resources other than oil (‘critical materials’), which are likely to become scarce in the short to medium term and will hamper the development of certain sectors, e.g. the information, communication and entertainment industry; notes that, according to recent studies, huge efficiency gains can be made on such materials, which would reduce waste, costs and resource dependency;

35.

Points out, with regard to energy, that Europe is currently dependent on fossil fuels as its main source of energy; considers that, while dependency on fossil fuels must be reduced, it is also imperative to achieve energy security for Europe; believes that this means diversifying its sources of fossil fuels, while trying to maintain energy at affordable prices; considers that energy sectors in Member States must be opened up and real competition must be achieved; considers that energy efficiency must be improved through R&D and the mainstreaming of ‘best practices’; considers that, with high oil and gas prices in the long run, Europe must be able to reduce its exposure in this area; considers it of utmost importance that the European Union should consider moving towards an internal energy market, to distribute its energy more efficiently between Member States, and to counter its dependence on energy from third countries; considers that the European Union’s share of energy from renewable sources must be increased in order to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels; considers that R&D in this area should be intensified and diverse local solutions should be favoured in order to make best use of available energy from renewable sources;

36.

Notes that the European Union is still lagging behind the speed of innovations in the US economy; points out that innovation can ensure a speedy recovery of European economies by providing comparative advantage on global markets; points out that, in times of economic downturn, it is common practice to cut back on R&D spending, but that this is the wrong approach, since it is exactly the opposite that needs to be done; believes that increased investment in R&D and education enhances productivity and thus growth; calls for investments in research and science with a view to achieving the goal of 3 % of GDP; stresses that the EU budget must allow for a bigger share of spending for research; considers that Member States should increase, or at least meet, their R&D investment targets and should provide support for private-sector R&D investments, through fiscal measures, loan guarantees and regional clusters and centres of excellence, and any other instruments that can contribute to this objective; considers that adult education and lifelong learning should be priorities at all policy levels, as they increase productivity, while providing the necessary skills for entering the labour market and staying employable within a highly competitive working area;

37.

Points out that, since the beginning of the 21st century, technology and telecommunications tools have unleashed the forces of globalisation on a previously unimagined scale, have ‘flattened’ communications and labour markets and have contributed to a period of unprecedented innovation, making economies more productive and also connecting global citizens; believes, therefore, that by maximising the power and impact of technology on the economy, further open up the internal market in telecommunications, energy and research and the industrial sector in particular, the European Union can emerge stronger from the current economic turmoil, strengthen the quality and affordability of its health care, advance climate-friendly energy development and deployment, improve education throughout its Member States and promote the prospects of the European Union becoming the world’s leader in technology and applied technological innovation; points out that the knowledge-based economy needs the development of high-quality services and a broadband strategy able to accelerate the upgrading and extension of networks; takes the view that the Commission proposal within the European Economic Recovery Plan aiming to achieve full coverage with broadband communication networks by 2010 is a necessary step forward that will allow the European Union to maintain its competitiveness;

38.

Asks for more attention to be focused on the Commission’s White Paper of 21 November 2001 on Youth (COM(2001)0681) and on the European Council’s European Youth Pact adopted on 22 and 23 March 2005 as one of the instruments contributing to the Lisbon Strategy goals; is of the opinion that the Commission should consider and incorporate the impact on youth and the results of the structures dialogue with youth organisations when preparing legislative proposals and that Member States should focus on youth when implementing the Lisbon National Reform Programmes and take youth into account in the relevant policy fields; considers that an increase in student mobility and the quality of the different educational systems should be a priority in the context of redefining the major goals of the Bologna Process beyond 2010 and action must be taken across different policy areas; points out that various aspects of mobility go beyond the scope of higher education and concern the scope of social affairs, finance, and immigration and visa policies to develop a real European Area for Higher Education;

39.

Considers a ‘Europeanisation’ of the financial supervision structure, effective competition rules, appropriate regulation and improved transparency of the financial markets to be essential in the medium term to avoid a repetition of the current crisis; takes the view that an integrated, comprehensive (covering all financial sectors) and coherent supervisory framework, starting with a balanced approach in regulating the cross-border spread of financial risk on the basis of harmonised legislation, would decrease compliance costs in the case of multi-jurisdiction activities; calls on the Commission to put forward proposals for revising the existing supervisory architecture along those principles; calls on the Member States, notwithstanding the measures set out in this paragraph, to return in the medium term to balanced public financing, and therefore calls on the Member States to clarify how they will be able to achieve that objective;

40.

Supports the decision of the European members of the G20 at the end of February 2009 in Berlin to take ‘definitive actions against tax havens and uncooperative jurisdictions’, by agreeing on a toolbox of sanctions as soon as possible, which has to be endorsed at the London summit; recommends that the EU adopt at its own level the adequate legislative framework with appropriate incentives towards market players to refrain from doing business with these jurisdictions; underlines how convergent approaches globally are essential to tackle this issue;

41

Calls on the Member States and the European Union to amend the EU budget with a view to allowing for the use of unused financial resources in order to support the policy goals of the European Union;

42.

Is concerned by the increasing regional differences with regard to the effects of the financial crisis, reflected, inter alia, in the increasing spread between the creditworthiness of Member States, leading to higher costs for loans for those with lower ratings; calls for the development of new innovative financial instruments in order to mitigate these effects and to attract fresh capital;

43.

Underlines that the crisis is having extremely negative economic and social consequences in many of the new Member States, substantially slowing their convergence with the EU-15; expects, furthermore, spill-over effects, affecting the euro and the economies of the euro-zone; calls, therefore, for strong European solidarity measures to protect the eurozone and strengthen the internal consistency of the European Union, in particular with a view to stronger support for the economies of Central and Eastern Europe, especially by adapting the structural funds and the Globalisation Fund for these countries, as well as special support from the EIB with regard to new innovative financial instruments; points to the importance of European unity in times of economic crisis when the economic downturn also threatens European common values; calls, therefore, for more attentive and careful action on the part of the Commission with regard to the new Member States;

44.

Notes that EU funding instruments should be used to support public spending; points out that, in order to contribute to the economic recovery of the European Union, the implementation rate and speed of these funding instruments needs to be accelerated; considers that the European Union’s cohesion policy is an excellent instrument of territorial solidarity, especially the trans-border components thereof; is very satisfied with the recent ‘Lisbonisation’ of the cohesion policy; considers that, through steps to direct regional funds more towards entrepreneurship, research, innovation, employment and new skills, considerable funds should become available at local level to enhance business potential and support the most vulnerable;

45.

Points out that the programmes relating to the Trans-European Transport Network (TENs-T) and the Trans-European Energy Networks (TENs-E) should also make their full contribution both to the European Economic Recovery Plan and to the Lisbon Strategy goals; considers that the positive efforts of the coordinators as well as the setting-up of the Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency, together with the implementing legislation to improve the efficiency of co-modality, have resulted in a substantial number of fully completed TEN-T projects all over the European Union to boost sustainable growth and better mobility;

46.

Notes the essential role of the EIB with regard to the European Economic Recovery Plan; welcomes the increase in capital for the EIB from the Member States in order to issue more loans to SMEs; insists that loans are accessible to SMEs from all Member States, in a transparent and equitable manner; calls for a further strengthening of the role of the EIB with regard to new innovative financial instruments;

47.

Considers, with regard to economic governance, that the current economic crisis requires firm, coordinated and timely government intervention by all Member States, as well as regulatory measures in order to shore up financial markets and restore confidence; considers that new legislative measures should be based on the principles of transparency and accountability and that effective monitoring needs to be implemented so as to safeguard consumer rights; considers that new regulation should include requirements against excessive leveraging and for higher capital reserves for banks; points, moreover, in this connection, to the present problems relating to valuation rules and risk assessment; considers that controls need to keep up with financial innovations and that the European Union should enhance the know-how of its regulatory bodies in this respect; considers that more regulation is not necessarily better regulation; considers that Member States must coordinate their regulatory actions; considers that stabilisation standards and regulation of the financial supervision in the euro area must be safeguarded;

48.

Recalls that credit rating agencies bear their share of responsibility for the financial crisis; welcomes the call by the European Council to speed up the adoption of the Commission proposal of 12 November 2008 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Credit Rating Agencies (COM(2008)0704) to tighten up the rules on rating agencies;

49.

Calls on the Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal to exempt so-called micro-entities from the scope of the Fourth Council Directive 78/660/EEC of 25 July 1978 based on Article 54(3)(g) of the Treaty on the annual accounts of certain types of companies (6);

50.

Believes that it is very urgent to enhance global regulation of the financial sector, which has to reach far beyond the classic banking sector, to undertake bold measures to establish binding rules for prudential supervision, transparency and good practices, and to apply sanctions to all states and territories which do not cooperate; calls on the Commission to put forward appropriate proposals in this regard and urges the Council to prepare the political field in international negotiations for a swift acceptance of such an approach; notes that global financial stability is a public good, and that responsibility for safeguarding this lies with political leaders;

51.

Urges the Council to settle, by March 2009, the review of Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax (7) in order to allow for reduced VAT levels on labour-intensive and staff-intensive services and other appropriate measures to stimulate domestic demand; calls for coordinated action and solidarity by the Member States in this respect by allowing for the differentiated options in sectoral VAT reduction provided for in the VAT Directive which Member States may or may not choose to implement, according to their respective priorities; considers that selective tax incentives should stimulate domestic demand as well as the economy;

52.

Warmly welcomes the fact that the Commission has called for a High-Level Group on Debureaucratisation and asks that the proposals agreed by that Group be implemented as soon as possible; stresses that the Lisbon Strategy should provide for the reduction of regulatory burdens on companies, while furthering productivity and thus higher growth rates across the board; believes that the European Union must examine alternatives for regulation, consult with stakeholders on new regulation and focus on the ratios between the costs and benefits of regulation;

Lisbon Strategy evaluation, next steps and the way ahead

53.

Welcomes the progress made under the Lisbon Strategy during recent years but notes that a number of important legislative initiatives are still pending and should be adopted as a matter of priority; underlines the unbalanced situation regarding the quality and quantity of initiatives under the different European guidelines; calls for a more balanced approach in the interests of a real multi-supportive EU policy mix reform programme; supports the strengthening of the external dimension of the European reform agenda, providing for high standards, appropriate regulatory framework and cooperative working methods in order to collaborate with other international economic players and to meet global challenges; welcomes, in this context, the work undertaken by various Commission directorates-general in developing new qualitative indicators; urges the Council to ask the Commission to ensure that such indicators be used in the upcoming evaluations of the NRPs and be incorporated in the Commission’s monitoring, thereby creating a more comprehensive and adequate picture of the successes of the Lisbon-Gothenburg Strategy;

54.

Emphasises that greater delivery within the Lisbon Strategy requires effective peer pressure on the part of the Council within the framework of multilateral surveillance;

55.

Points out that the open method of coordination, on which the Lisbon Strategy has been based for nine years, has revealed these limitations in the face of new internal and external challenges confronting the European Union; urges, therefore, that the post-Lisbon Strategy period be based on a more proactive, more global policy, i.e. on the updating of existing common policies (for trade, internal market, economic and monetary union, etc.) and on new common external policies (energy, climate, development, migration, etc.);

56.

Regrets that, with only one year left on the timescale of the Lisbon strategy, clearly defined goals have not been met and progress in programme areas has been insufficient; takes the view that Member States’ efforts have been lacking in implementing measures to bring the goals of the Lisbon strategy closer; believes that the Lisbon Strategy must be seen as an important guideline for future-shaping policies, aimed at a strong, competitive and growth-fostering EU; considers, therefore, that it deserves to be taken more seriously by Member States and should not be seen merely as a set of distant goals, but as an action plan for the further development of Europe;

57.

Proposes that further reflection on a ‘Lisbon Plus-Agenda’ (which must start in 2010) should be based on the general architecture of the present Lisbon Strategy (competitiveness and greening of European industries, more and better jobs, social inclusion, sustainability), but stresses the need to present a more homogenous and mutually supportive approach capable of decisively enlarging the European Lisbon governance capacity; c. asks the Commission for a thorough evaluation of the past nine years of the Lisbon Strategy and of the achievement of and commitment to the goals of the Lisbon strategy by the Member States to be presented before the end of 2009;

58.

Asks the Commission to analyse the usefulness of a post-Lisbon strategy with new aims and goals, and especially to assess the readiness of Member States to implement such a new programme, and its viability; stresses the need to refocus the IPGs against the background of the economic downturn and urges the Council to agree on short-term measures to safeguard the 2008 employment rate, to invest in the fight against climate change and to ensure sufficient incomes, especially with regard to the most vulnerable groups of society; expects the Commission to launch initiatives and present proposals with respect to these goals in good time for the Spring Lisbon Council in 2010;

59.

Stresses that the ‘Lisbonisation’ of public expenditure in all Member States and of the EU budget must become a reality, as it would mainstream the Lisbon Strategy itself and radically enhance effectiveness in the quest for achieving the goals of growth and job creation;

60.

Notes that the tools needed by the European Union to foster the goals of the Lisbon Strategy are essentially the streamlining of all related policies, all financial instruments and funds, as well as the EU budget in such a way as to induce an acceleration and deepening of efforts for growth and job creation; considers that, in the short run, stronger fiscal stimuli are needed for swift recovery from the economic crisis provided that it reorientates private expenses and behaviour in consistency with the objectives set by the Lisbon-Gothenburg Strategy and the climate-energy package; warns, in this context, against indiscriminate tax cuts; takes the view that fiscal stimuli must be targeted towards social and environmental objectives; considers that possible means are reductions in value-added tax levels, for labour-intensive services and locally supplied services, considers also that funding can be provided for green initiatives in, inter alia, the energy sector, as well as the automobile and the construction sector, especially since those sectors are experiencing a collapse in demand for their products; considers that consumers can, for example, be supported in buying greener cars and environmentally friendly housing through tax exemptions;

61.

Regrets the still weak visibility of the Lisbon Strategy in the national policies of many Member States; takes the view that the mobilisation of all economic stakeholders is essential to ensure its effective implementation; believes, in particular, that the closer involvement of social partners, national parliaments, regional and local authorities as well as civil society will improve the achievements of the Lisbon Strategy and enhance the public debate on appropriate reforms; believes that the mobilisation of all stakeholders can be ensured through proper implementation of the principle of multi-level governance;

62.

Regrets, once again, that a clear plan and code of practice has still not been agreed between Parliament, the Council and the Commission in consultation with the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, which would guarantee appropriate cooperation and the full involvement of all relevant EU institutions concerned in the appropriate further handling of the follow-up of the Lisbon Strategy; calls, in this connection, on the Council and the Commission to submit forthwith proposals for the close cooperation of the relevant EU institutions with a view to the impending revision of the integrated policy guidelines as well as the reflection and set-up of the forthcoming Lisbon II agenda;

*

* *

63.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the candidate countries, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee.


(1)  OJ C 282 E, 6.11.2008, p. 422.

(2)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0058.

(3)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0543.

(4)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0057.

(5)  OJ L 200, 8.8.2000, p. 35.

(6)  OJ L 222, 14.8.1978, p. 11.

(7)  OJ L 347, 11.12.2006, p. 1.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/90


Wednesday 11 March 2009
Combating climate change

P6_TA(2009)0121

European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on an EU strategy for a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen and the adequate provision of financing for climate change policy

2010/C 87 E/16

The European Parliament,

having regard to Article 175 of the EC Treaty,

having regard to the climate and energy package adopted by Parliament on 17 December 2008, in particular its positions on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system of the Community (1) and on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020 (2),

having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the European Council of 19 and 20 June 2008 and 11 and 12 December 2008,

having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2009 on ‘2050: The future begins today – Recommendations for the EU’s future integrated policy on climate change’ (3),

having regard to the 14th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (COP 14) and the Fourth Conference of Parties serving as a meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 4), held between 1 and 12 December 2008 in Poznań (Poland),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 28 January 2009 entitled ‘Towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen’ (COM(2009)0039),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 26 November 2008 entitled ‘A European Economic Recovery Plan’ (COM(2008)0800),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 22 November 2007 entitled ‘A European strategic energy technology plan (SET-Plan) – Towards a low-carbon future’ (COM(2007)0723),

having regard to Rule 103 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.

whereas negotiations on a comprehensive international agreement on climate change consistent with the objective of limiting global temperature increases to below 2 °C are due to be concluded in Copenhagen in December 2009,

B.

whereas recent studies show that there is potential for reducing global greenhouse emissions by 40 % by 2030 and that, at a cost of less than half of one percent of global GDP, wind, solar and other sustainable renewable energies could provide almost a third of total global power needs; whereas energy efficiency could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than a quarter and whereas deforestation could be almost halted,

C.

whereas an increasing number of scientists are recognising that avoiding dangerous climate change will require a stabilisation of the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at 350 ppmv CO2 equivalent, a level significantly lower than previously recommended,

D.

whereas the European Union will agree on its negotiating position at the Spring 2009 European Council,

E.

whereas the EU has striven to play a leading role in the fight against global warming and is fully supportive of the UNFCCC negotiation process,

F.

whereas the EU has adopted the above-mentioned climate and energy package consisting of legislative measures to implement a unilateral 20 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2020, with the commitment to move to a 30 % reduction if a sufficiently ambitious international agreement is reached in Copenhagen,

G.

whereas emissions are growing rapidly in developing countries, which cannot reduce them without considerable technical and financial support,

H.

whereas deforestation and forest degradation account for some 20 % of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and also pose a major threat in the context of climate change since they jeopardise the important function of forests as a carbon sink; whereas deforestation occurs at an alarming rate of 13 million hectares per year, most of it in tropical regions in developing countries,

I.

whereas the EU emission trading scheme (EU ETS) may work as a template for the development of emission trading in other developed countries and regions,

J.

whereas half of the global mitigation efforts could be met through low-cost ‘win-win’ measures, i.e. by improving energy efficiency,

K.

whereas auctioning in emissions trading has the potential to generate a considerable amount of revenue in the future which could be used to finance mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries,

L.

whereas the facilitation of financing for high-quality projects in developing countries, especially as regards small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), is dependent on a comprehensive, transparent and continuous flow of information regarding the availability of, and the means to apply for, funding; whereas this must be the responsibility of the international community, with the EU taking a leading role and setting a good example,

M.

whereas, according to recent estimates, new investment needed in emission reduction globally amounts to EUR 175 000 million by 2020, of which more than half should be invested in developing countries,

N.

whereas the Commission has estimated that halving deforestation by 2020 will cost EUR 15-25 000 million annually by that year, and that halting deforestation will require even larger amounts,

O.

whereas various studies by international organisations have estimated the cost of adaptation to climate change in developing countries to be in the range of tens of billions of euros annually,

1.

Underlines that the EU must maintain a leading role in international climate policy; stresses the importance of the EU speaking with one voice in order to maintain its credibility in this role;

2.

Calls for the EU to actively pursue a Copenhagen agreement which takes into account the most recent scientific reports on climate change, commits the parties to stabilisation levels and temperature targets that provide a strong probability of avoiding dangerous climate change, and allows for regular reviews to ensure that targets are in line with the latest science; welcomes the Commission’s proposals in this area;

3.

Recalls that, in order to limit the global average temperature increase to not more than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, it is necessary not only that developed countries significantly reduce their emissions but also that developing countries should contribute to the attainment of this objective;

4.

Points out that the reduction of emissions in developing countries below ‘business as usual’ levels will be instrumental in limiting the average global temperature increase to well below 2 °C and requires broad support from industrialised countries;

5.

Underlines that, in order to allow the necessary mitigation action in developing countries, significantly increased financial resources are needed;

6.

Emphasises the responsibility of industrialised countries for providing sufficient, sustainable and predictable financial and technical support to the developing countries to give them incentives to commit themselves to the reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions, to adapt to the consequences of climate change and to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as to enhance capacity-building in order to comply with obligations under the future international agreement on climate change; stresses that a majority of such funds must be new and additional to Official Development Assistance (ODA);

7.

Recalls its above-mentioned resolution of 4 February 2009 and in particular those parts devoted to the international dimension and to financing and budgetary matters, including the importance of setting for the EU and the other industrialised countries as a group a long-term reduction target of at least 80 % by 2050 compared to 1990;

8.

Furthermore recalls its recommendation that certain principles adopted in the climate and energy package be used as blueprint for the international agreement, in particular the binding linear pathway for industrialised country commitments, differentiation on the basis of verified emissions, and a strengthened compliance regime with an annual abatement factor;

9.

Emphasises that, in the current financial and economic crisis, the EU’s objective of fighting climate change can be combined with major new economic opportunities to develop new technologies, to create jobs and to enhance energy security; underlines that an agreement in Copenhagen could provide the necessary stimulus for such a ‘Green New Deal’ boosting economic growth, promoting green technologies and securing these new jobs in the EU and in developing countries;

10.

Calls for the European Council to aim for an international agreement with industrialised countries achieving collective greenhouse gas emissions reductions at the high end of the 25-40 % range as recommended by the Fourth Assessment Report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 4AR), and for those reductions to be domestic;

11.

Is concerned about the lack of precision regarding the level of the EU’s financial responsibility in the above-mentioned Commission Communication of 28 January 2009; calls on the European Council, when adopting a negotiating mandate for the Copenhagen conference, to make tangible commitments on financing that are consistent with the global efforts needed in order to limit the average temperature increase to well below 2 °C;

12.

Believes that such commitments on financing should include, as provided for by the European Council in December 2008, a pledge by Member States to use a significant part of the auctioning revenues generated by the EU ETS to finance actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change in developing countries which will have ratified the international agreement on climate change, but stresses that as less than 50 % of EU emissions are covered by emission trading it is necessary to include other sectors of the economy in the Member States when it comes to the effort of financing these important actions;

13.

Insists that such commitments must provide for predictable financing for mechanisms set up in the UNFCCC context which are additional to ODA and independent from annual budgetary procedures in the Member States;

14.

Welcomes the two alternatives for innovative funding outlined in the above-mentioned Commission Communication of 28 January 2009, as long as they are designed in a manner that guarantees sufficiently predictable levels of funding; furthermore agrees with the suggestion that this be combined with funding from auctioning for aviation and maritime transport under cap and trade systems;

15.

Welcomes the Commission’s idea that part of the finance should be given in the form of loans because some activities can create a ‘win-win’ situation also in developing countries;

16.

Underlines that binding targets would enable investors to better assess the risks and opportunities associated with climate change and would involve investors in projects that would meet mitigation as well as adaptation targets; underlines, moreover, the need for clarity regarding the role of private capital in the investment necessary in order to reach the targets;

17.

However, considers it of the utmost importance to adopt a more comprehensive action plan on the future financing of climate policy, which would cover all relevant areas and sources of financing; regards the above-mentioned Commission Communication of 28 January 2009 as a good starting point for that work, but stresses that it must be strengthened with clearly defined measures; calls on the European Council to mandate the Commission to urgently develop such an action plan with a view to the Copenhagen negotiations;

18.

Believes that a large part of the collective contribution towards the mitigation efforts and adaptation needs of developing countries must be dedicated to projects which strive to halt deforestation and forest degradation, and to reforestation and afforestation projects in such countries;

19.

Welcomes the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as a possible way to enable developing countries to participate in the carbon market; underlines that the use of offsets to meet emission reduction targets by industrialised countries cannot be part of the responsibility of developing countries to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions in an international agreement on climate change; insists, therefore, that stringent project quality criteria must be part of future offsetting mechanisms, in order to avoid industrialised countries taking away the low-cost reduction options from developing countries, and in addition to guarantee the high standard of such projects, with reliable, verifiable and real emission reductions that also provide for sustainable development in such countries;

20.

Considers that the collective contribution by the EU towards developing countries’ mitigation efforts and adaptation needs should not be less than EUR 30 000 million per annum by 2020, a figure that may increase as new knowledge is acquired concerning the severity of climate change and the scale of its costs;

21.

Underlines that large financial flows for mitigation efforts and adaptation needs in developing countries are only part of the solution; insists that the funds should be spent in a sustainable way, avoiding bureaucracy, in particular for SMEs, and corruption; stresses that the funding must be predictable, coordinated and transparent, building capacity within developing countries at both central and local level, giving priority to the people that face problems with climate change and not only the governments; stresses in this context the importance of continuous and easily accessible information on the funding available; calls on the Council and the upcoming Swedish Presidency to actively promote these principles during the UNFCCC COP15 negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009;

22.

Calls on the Commission to abandon its previous resistance to the inclusion of forestry in emissions trading schemes; believes that both market and non-market based finance will be required to fund future ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation’ (REDD) mechanisms under a post-2012 agreement; in this context, calls on the Commission and the Council to take the lead in developing pilot carbon markets for REDD; further calls on the Commission and the Council to elaborate on how market and non-market based forestry funds could complement each other;

23.

Believes that, with the EU leading the way in the provision of financial and technical support for developing countries, the chances of success in the Copenhagen negotiations will improve considerably; believes that it is necessary for the EU to show leadership in the area of finance by providing concrete negotiating figures at an early stage, in order to mobilise sufficient domestic public support, to encourage developing countries to adopt ambitious binding reduction targets, and to encourage other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries to contribute in a similar manner;

24.

Acknowledges the fact that the EU as a whole is on track to meet the Kyoto target but points out that some Member States are far away from their Kyoto target, and that this could undermine the credibility of the EU in the Copenhagen process; insists, therefore, that those Member States that are not already on track to meet the Kyoto target should intensify their efforts;

25.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Secretariat of the UNFCCC, with a request to the latter that it be forwarded to all contracting parties which are not EU Member States.


(1)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0610.

(2)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0611.

(3)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2009)0042.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/94


Wednesday 11 March 2009
Employment policy guidelines

P6_TA(2009)0122

European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on implementation of the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States 2008-2010

2010/C 87 E/17

The European Parliament,

having regard to its position of 20 May 2008 on Employment Guidelines 2008-2010 (1),

having regard to the Commission’s Communication of 26 November 2008 on A European Economic Recovery Plan (COM(2008)0800),

having regard to the Council Decision 2008/618/EC of 15 July 2008 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (2),

having regard to the Commission proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States of 28 January 2009 (COM(2008)0869),

having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 11 and 12 December 2008, which set out the EU framework of action to avoid recession and sustain economic activity and employment,

having regard to its resolution of 9 October 2008 on promoting social inclusion and combating poverty, including child poverty, in the EU (3),

having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.

whereas there is a strong interrelationship between economic growth, employment, the fight against poverty and social inclusion,

B.

whereas the current economic crisis presents the unprecedented challenges of increasing unemployment and social exclusion, and whereas the European Union’s economic situation is forecast to deteriorate even further, generating decreased or even negative employment growth and increased unemployment in the Union in 2009,

C.

whereas the European Employment Strategy and the Employment Guidelines are the main instruments within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy aimed at addressing labour market challenges,

D.

whereas the Union and the Member States have a shared responsibility for addressing the challenges, opportunities and uncertainties of citizens in respect of globalisation,

E.

whereas the global financial and economic crisis requires the Union to respond in a decisive and coordinated way in order to prevent job losses, support adequate income of citizens and avoid recession, and to turn the present economic and employment challenges into opportunities,

F.

whereas it is therefore urgent to step up efforts at all levels of governance, with the involvement of social partners and other relevant actors, to invest in people and modernise European labour markets, in particular by applying flexicurity approaches, in consultation with the social partners in accordance with national custom and practice,

General: economic recovery and employment policy guidance

1.

Believes that, in the face of a severe worldwide recession and a forecast increase in unemployment of at least 3,5 million in the EU by the end of 2009, the central goals of employment policy for the Union and its Member States must be: to preserve as many viable jobs as possible from the short-term failure of demand; to assist employment creation; and to support both the purchasing power of unemployed workers and their ability rapidly to re-gain employment; calls on the Commission to give a clear signal to Member States that the Employment Guidelines should be implemented in this spirit, and to tackle employment as a priority issue by putting proposals to the 2009 Spring European Council for a European Employment Initiative, with coordinated action by Member States to safeguard employment and create new jobs;

2.

Welcomes the Commission’s Communication on a European Economic Recovery Plan and its emphasis on the connection between short-term fiscal stimulus and the long-term Lisbon Strategy and the Integrated Guidelines; underlines in this respect the importance of ensuring that any short-term measures taken by Member States to recover the economy contribute towards achieving the commonly agreed objectives;

3.

Notes as a central dilemma in the current crisis that European economic policy instruments are not yet developed enough to successfully meet the challenges ahead; requires, therefore, a review and an update of the essential policy tools, in particular the Integrated Guidelines, the Stability and Growth Pact, as well as the Sustainable Development Strategy, in order to integrate them under the umbrella of a New Deal for Smart Growth in the European Union;

4.

Stresses the necessity to refocus the Integrated Guidelines against the background of the economic downturn and urges the Council to agree on short-term measures to safeguard the 2008 employment rate and to invest in the fight against climate change, and to call on the Member States and the social partners, in accordance with national practice, to ensure sufficient incomes with special regard to the most vulnerable groups of society; expects the Commission to launch initiatives and present proposals with respect to these goals in time for the forthcoming Spring European Council;

5.

Recalls that coordinated investment by the Member States in the five core Lisbon goals – research, education, active labour market policies, childcare and incentives for private investment – must be a key element in employment policy, and that childcare infrastructure is to be regarded as one of the preconditions for increasing participation, particularly by women in the labour market; encourages the Member States to mainstream these common principles in consultation with the social partners regarding their national reform programmes;

Employment Guidelines 2008-2010: urgent need for a rigorous implementation

6.

Considers that, in implementing the guidelines, the Member States must:

take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health, and

aim to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, or sexual orientation;

7.

Considers that the Member States must ensure strengthened interaction between the guidelines and the open method of coordination on the Social Protection and Social Inclusion Process;

8.

Considers that the Member States, in cooperation with the social partners and in accordance with their national traditions, must examine and report in their National Reform Plans on how to improve compliance with and implementation of the principles and rules of European social legislation, agreements between the social partners and the fundamental principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination;

9.

Reiterates the importance of using the flexicurity concept in guideline 21 to create a bridge between jobs, and emphasises that this demands a high level of protection in the social security schemes as well as active labour market policies;

10.

Welcomes in this regard the Commission’s statement that it is essential: to reinforce activation schemes, in particular the low-skilled workers; to enhance job subsidies and short training courses for vulnerable groups and those most at risk of long-term unemployment; to provide (re)training and new skills needed in less badly affected sectors; to ensure adequate social protection that provides income security, as well as to make a crucial commitment to the social dialogue and the involvement of the social partners;

11.

Underlines the importance of targeted actions for vulnerable groups in times of high unemployment, and in particular of targeted actions for groups of long-term unemployed people, people with disabilities and immigrant groups;

12.

Believes that, in view of the severity of the economic crisis, the Commission must be prepared to take exceptional measures, including a widening of access to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), which must be able to support workers in a wider range of situations, including temporary workers who have lost their jobs, and a temporary opening of the European Social Fund (ESF) to support employment preservation measures via training schemes;

13.

Believes that the economic crisis requires the strengthening of EU measures to deal with restructuring, in particular the strengthening of information and consultation rights;

14.

Believes that the next reform of the EU Structural Funds should seek to focus the Funds’ objectives more closely on the creation of sustainable, high-quality employment;

15.

Stresses, moreover, the importance of education not only to increasing workers’ employability but also to improving their mobility, which is important for the functioning of the internal market; emphasises, therefore, the importance of validation of formally and non-formally obtained skills;

16.

Underlines the importance of guideline 23 and of substantial investments in lifelong learning in order to lower the unemployment rate as well as achieve the goal of creating better jobs in Europe; stresses in this context the need for all citizens to have equal access to, and opportunity to take part in, lifelong learning programmes while paying special attention to vulnerable groups; stresses that the ESF and the EGF should be used to finance such actions immediately;

17.

Regrets the fact that those with the lowest levels of initial education, older people, people in rural areas, and people with disabilities are the least likely to participate in education, training and lifelong learning in all countries;

18.

Stresses that improving the delivery of adult learning is essential to raise participation, and that measures to promote effective delivery include availability of learning sites and childcare facilities locally, open and distance learning services for those in remote areas, information and guidance, tailored programmes and flexible teaching arrangements;

19.

Recalls the fact that the unemployment rates among young people in Europe are still too high; recalls also that experience from earlier economic crises shows that young adults who become unemployed on leaving education are substantially less able to enter the labour market; stresses, therefore, the importance of all Member States fulfilling the objective of guideline 18, that every young person who has left school should be offered, within four months, a job, apprenticeship, additional training or other employability measure;

20.

Calls for decisive action to combat the problem of low participation of women in the labour market; recalls that women’s employment rates are generally lower, and that it is more common for women than for men to have a part-time job; underlines, therefore, the importance of a policy in which men and women take equal responsibility; in order to achieve this, calls on Member States to urgently fulfil their obligations according to the Barcelona targets;

21.

Notes with concern that part-time employment, in which the majority of workers are women, is proving to be particularly susceptible to the economic crisis;

22.

Considers that in times of high unemployment, there is an obvious risk that regional and social cohesion will suffer, and therefore underlines the importance of guideline 17 concerning the implementation of social and territorial cohesion to prevent deficiencies in this area; calls therefore on the Member States to promote active social integration for all in order to combat poverty and social exclusion by ensuring a decent income and high-quality social services together with access to the employment market through opportunities for recruitment and initial or ongoing vocational training;

23.

Emphasises the importance, especially in the economic crisis, of investments in the welfare sector; considers this to be a sector that is performing a wide range of important community services, as well as employing a large proportion of the population; stresses that the welfare sector therefore needs to be maintained in order to prevent a decline in quality of community services and a rise in unemployment rates;

24.

Notes with regret that it is possible that during this time of economic crisis there may be some pressure on wages in some companies as a voluntary alternative to selective redundancies; emphasises, however, the importance of not letting the crisis put downward pressure on wages in general; considers it important that:

each Member State, in accordance with national tradition and practices, establish a policy of taking competition on the basis of poverty wages out of the market,

collectively bargained agreements have a wide coverage,

the hierarchy of collective agreements be respected,

wages and working conditions, as laid out in collective agreements and/or labour law, be respected and implemented in practice;

Need for coordinated action in response to the economic crisis

25.

Underlines the importance of proactive and coordinated investments across Member States, including in productive infrastructure, education and climate change, to achieve the goal of raising employment levels, contribute to the creation of quality jobs and ensure social cohesion; emphasises in this context the importance of EU support to the development of modern and sustainable industry;

26.

Underlines the importance of not only creating additional jobs but also of retaining and improving the quality of jobs available today;

27.

Calls on Member States to continue promoting ownership and improving the involvement of all actors concerned, including social partners and other stakeholders, where appropriate, in order to implement the Employment Guidelines effectively;

*

* *

28.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee.


(1)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0207.

(2)  OJ L 198, 26.7.2008, p. 47.

(3)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0467.


1.4.2010   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

CE 87/98


Wednesday 11 March 2009
European Economic Recovery Plan

P6_TA(2009)0123

European Parliament resolution of 11 March 2009 on a European Economic Recovery Plan (2008/2334(INI))

2010/C 87 E/18

The European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission communication of 4 March 2009 for the Spring European Council on Driving European recovery (COM(2009)0114),

having regard to the Commission communication of 26 November 2008 on a European Economic Recovery Plan (COM(2008)0800),

having regard to the Commission communication of 29 October 2008 entitled ‘From financial crisis to recovery: A European framework for action’ (COM(2008)0706),

having regard to the Commission Recommendation of 28 January 2009 for a Council recommendation on the 2009 up-date of the broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and the Community and on the implementation of Member States’ employment policies (COM(2009)0034),

having regard to the Commission communication of 17 December 2008 on a Temporary Community framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis (1),

having regard to the Commission communication of 16 December 2008 on the Implementation Report for the Community Lisbon Programme 2008 – 2010 (COM(2008)0881),

having regard to the Commission communication of 16 December 2008 on Cohesion Policy: investing in the real economy (COM(2008)0876),

having regard to the Commission staff working document of 16 December 2008 on the Single Market Review: one year on (SEC(2008)3064),

having regard to the Commission communication 16 December 2008 on the external dimension of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs: Reporting on market access and setting the framework for more effective international regulatory cooperation (COM(2008)0874),

having regard to the Commission proposal of 16 December 2008 for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (COM(2008)0867),

having regard to the Commission communication of 11 December 2007 on the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (2008-2010) including a Commission recommendation on the broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and the Community (under Article 99 of the EC Treaty) and a proposal for a Council Decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (under Article 128 of the EC Treaty) (COM(2007)0803),

having regard to the Commission communication of 7 May 2008 on EMU@10: successes and challenges after 10 years of Economic and Monetary Union (COM(2008)0238) (Communication on EMU@10),

having regard to Member States’ Action plans and updated National Reform Programmes for the period 2008-2010,

having regard to the composition of the High Level Expert Group on EU financial supervision, chaired by Mr Jacques de Larosière, and to its report to the Commission of 25 February 2009 in view of the European Council of Spring 2009,

having regard to the conclusions of the Presidency of the European Council meeting of 11 and 12 December 2008 as concerns economic and financial questions,

having regard to the meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Eurogroup, held on 12 October 2008, with a view to adopting a coordinated rescue plan to combat the economic crisis,

having regard to the conclusions of the Presidency of the European Council of 13 and 14 March 2008 as concerns launching the new cycle of the renewed Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs (2008-2010),

having regard to the conclusions of the Ecofin Council meeting of 7 October 2008 as concerns immediate responses to the financial turmoil,

having regard to the conclusions of the Ecofin Council meeting of 4 November 2008 as regards international initiatives in response to the financial crisis and preparations for the international summit on the crisis,

having regard to the Ecofin Council contribution of 2 December 2008 to the proceedings of the European Council on 11 and 12 December 2008,

having regard to the Memorandum of Understanding of 1 June 2008 on Cooperation Between the Financial Supervisory Authorities, Central Banks and Finance Ministries of the European Union on Cross-Border Financial Stability,

having regard to its resolution of 22 October 2008 on the European Council meeting on 15 and 16 October 2008 (2),

having regard to its resolution of 20 February 2008 on the Integrated Policy Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (Part: broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and the Community): Launching the new cycle (2008-2010) (3),

having regard to its resolution of 18 November 2008 on the EMU@10: The first ten years of Economic and Monetary Union and future challenges (4), (resolution on the EMU@10)

having regard to its resolution of 23 September 2008 with recommendations to the Commission on hedge funds and private equity (5),

having regard to its resolution of 9 October 2008 with recommendations to the Commission on the Lamfalussy follow-up: future structure of supervision (6),

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, Committee on Development, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Regional Development (A6-0063/2009),

A.

whereas the international economy and global markets have been able to deliver an unprecedented and historically unique growth the last 25 years, with a capacity of production that has established prosperity for more people than ever before, a capacity that needs to be readjusted in an economic slowdown followed by decreasing demand,

B.

whereas the financial and economic crisis is worsening day by day, bringing the European Union and its neighbouring countries, in the absence of far stronger and effective public action than has been seen so far, closer and closer to a profound social and political crisis challenging European solidarity,

C.

whereas the main challenges for countering the downturn of the international and the European economy now is the lack of confidence on the financial and capital markets as well as rising unemployment,

D.

whereas the unprecedented dimension of the current financial crisis and the depth of the ensuing downturn requires a considered overhaul of the regulatory and governance framework of financial markets, at EU and international level, in order both to prevent future problems in the international economy create problems of the same kind on the financial markets and to make the EU economy more robust to changes,

E.

whereas the failure of crucial financial institutions undermines credit markets, hinders capital flow, investments and trade, and pushes down prices and values, thereby eroding the stability and the capital assets needed for financial institutions to lend and for companies to secure their own financing,

F.

whereas the causes of and reasons for the current financial crisis have proved to be lax monetary policies and politically enforced increased credits for housing, and as macro-economical imbalances mainly between the US and emerging economies such as China in the past; stresses the need to develop further EU competitiveness and investments in infrastructure and research as well as in new companies and new markets,

G.

whereas the main priorities for EU policy makers in securing economic recovery should be to re-establish the functioning of financial and capital markets, and to safeguard employment, thereby making it possible to help the EU economy to return to growth, investments and new jobs,

H.

whereas the current recession should be used as an opportunity to promote ‘green’ investments and create ‘green’ jobs in line with the achievement of the long-term Lisbon-Göteborg goals and the climate and energy package,

I.

whereas securing the economic recovery requires coordinated action in the framework of EU legislation regarding competition and State aid as well as stability for financial and labour markets, thereby not distorting competition between companies or creating an imbalance between the Member States, in the interest of securing the stability and competitiveness of the EU economy,

J.

whereas the consequences of the financial crisis on the real economy have resulted in exceptional economic circumstances that require timely, targeted, temporary and proportional measures and decisions in the interests of finding solutions to an unprecedented global economic and employment situation and whereas public intervention, although inevitable, distorts what are the appropriate roles of the private and public sectors in more normal times,

K.

whereas the shortcomings of the current financial regulatory framework have already been addressed by Parliament in its positions relating to legislative proposals and in its resolutions,

L.

whereas the most recent data provided by the Community on 2009 prospects indicates a rapid deterioration of economic conditions throughout the European Union and whereas the European Union and the Member States have now the ultimate responsibility for guaranteeing macro-economic stability, sustainable growth and employment;

M.

whereas the financial crisis has revealed the dilemma between the need to tackle regulatory competence for economic policy at the EU level on the one hand and the fact that economic stimulus plans are within the competence of Member State authorities on the other,

N.

whereas the short-term actions initiated by individual Member States require comprehensive EU coordination to guarantee a joint-multiplier effect on the one hand and to avoid spill-over effects, distorted markets and wasteful duplication of efforts on the other,

O.

whereas short-term actions must fit in with and support the long-term objectives of making the European Union the most competitive knowledge economy, not undermining future trust and confidence, and ensuring macro-economic stability,

P.

whereas Member States’ different capacities to engage in recovery programmes should be recognised; whereas a sizeable complementary EU approach with strong focus on a mutually supportive mix of policy measures in the fields of economic, environment, employment and social policies should be developed,

Q.

whereas membership of the euro area has proved to enhance economic stability in the relevant Member States; whereas, apart from responsible government intervention to counter the economic downturn, citizens expecting such a time of economic recession, a strong response by the European Union’s provisions and social and regional cohesion, whilst preserving the rules and principles that guarantee a strong and stable currency,

R.

whereas it is of the utmost importance that confidence is restored in order to allow for the orderly functioning of the financial markets and thereby to limit the negative effects of the financial crisis on the real economy,

S.

whereas Member States that have recently acceded to the European Union and that are not in the euro area are badly affected by speculation against their currencies, capital flight and the freezing of international credit markets,

General

1.

Welcomes the Commission initiative to launch a European economic recovery plan (Recovery Plan) as a reaction to the serious ongoing economic downturn; notes, that the Community dimension of that proposal amounts to 15 % of the budget for the recovery programme, which still needs to be implemented urgently;

2.

Stresses that the top priority of the Recovery Plan must be to stimulate the economy and competitiveness of the European Union in order to safeguard citizens’ opportunities and security, and to avoid increased unemployment; considers that the Recovery Plan must reverse the economic decline by enabling financial markets to function properly again, facilitate investments, and improve opportunities for growth and jobs while strengthening the EU economy and labour market and improving the framework conditions for growth and the creation of jobs;

3.

Expects from the Commission clear and strong guidance towards an improved coordinated approach amongst all Member States in managing this deep economic crisis in order to safeguard as many jobs and as much employment in Europe as possible;

4.

Insists that all financial aid be timely, targeted and temporary; warns of possible crowding-out effects and dissolution of EU competition policy; urges to restore, as soon as practicable, fair competitive markets as defined in the Treaties; notes with concern the rapid rise in public debt and budget deficits; moreover, calls for a return to sound state finance as soon as possible, as provided for in the revised Stability and Growth Pact (revised SGP), in order to avoid putting too much burden on future generations;

5.

Stresses that temporary exceptions and deviations from Community competition policy must be reversed, and normality restored, in clearly defined time perspectives;

6.

Stresses that the Recovery Plan must serve the purpose of delivering a fair and equitable international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 and that such an agreement must, inter alia, give poorer countries the opportunity to escape poverty without fuelling global warming by helping to finance massive investment into adapting to climate change and into renewable energy and energy efficiency;

7.

Notes with concern the rapid rise of public debt and budget deficits; is concerned that public debts may become an excessive burden for future generations;

8.

While accepting the need to adjust to a globally competitive environment and turning the European economy back to growth as very important common goals, calls for the European Union to step up its efforts to invest in skills, training and sustainable job creation, the safeguarding of employment, and the prevention of mass unemployment while ensuring constructive tax policies, which should help determine the size and components of the Recovery Plan; expects agreement at the 2009 Spring European Council on clear guidance and concrete measures towards safeguarding employment and creating job opportunities;

9.

Recommends, as an essential requirement for effectiveness, that the coordination of national recovery plans allows for each programme to be tailored to each country’s specific needs, but taking into account the common interest, the common strategies defined in terms of fight against climate change, and the assurance of the strongest possible multiplier effect, in particular as regards employment;

10.

Recommends new horizontal initiatives at EU level, given that different national capacities and margins of budgetary manoeuvre may generate very asymmetric outcomes across the European Union; recalls, however, the responsibility of each Member State to exercise fiscal discipline, investments and structural reforms;

11.

Strongly advises against the risk that the solutions implemented become the sum of all the national policies, with potential conflicts and costs, undermining the single market, the economic and monetary union and weakening the European Union’s role as a global actor;

12.

Supports the Commission’s commitment to the revised SGP and notes its willingness to use all the flexibility as a way to conduct anti-cyclical policies to address the economic recession which is foreseen by the pact in order to allow Member States to respond adequately to the economic crisis, namely to assess whether short-term investment decisions are compatible with medium-term budgetary targets and conducive to sustainable growth and long-term Lisbon Strategy goals;

13.

Emphasises that it is imperative that Member States continue to follow the revised SGP with a view to tackling the present exceptional circumstances effectively on the one hand and to guaranteeing a firm commitment to bringing normal budget discipline back on track as soon as the economy recovers, whilst reinforcing the counter-cyclicality of the revised SGP on the other;

Financial markets: from controlling the crisis to sound markets in the future

Returning to confidence in the financial sector

14.

Welcomes the short-term measures adopted to restore confidence to the financial system; recalls that those emergency measures are insufficient to tackle some of the fundamental problems at the source of the crisis, namely global imbalances, extreme risk-taking, leveraging and rewarding short-termism; recalls the necessity to review remuneration schemes as possible sources of financial instability;

15.

Calls for coordinated action between Member States allowing for general and explicit national bank guarantees covering liabilities, but excluding equity capital, in order to reduce uncertainty in the credit markets and facilitate the functioning of those markets;

16.

Invites the Member States, and in particular those belonging to the euro area, to examine the possibility of a major European loan guaranteed jointly by the Member States;

17.

Restates that safeguarding the savings of, and credit provision for, individuals and undertakings, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), is the overriding justification for the current exceptional public intervention in the financial system; reminds Member State governments of their responsibility for and accountability to their parliaments in the use of public money in rescue plans and strongly recommends that a set of adequate surveillance and, as necessary, sanctions, be introduced and coordinated at EU level to ensure the achievement of such goals;

18.

Stresses the importance of ensuring that central interest rate cuts are passed on to borrowers;

19.

Recalls the necessity for regulators and the relevant Member State authorities to scrutinise in depth the activities of the banks and the bankers over the last months, and also to determine whether reprehensible and even criminal behaviour might have contributed to the banking meltdown and to ensure that the public intervention and monetary policy decisions, in terms of interest rates, has been able to reverse the credit squeeze;

20.

Considers that strict monitoring of the rescue packages to financial institutions must be implemented in order to ensure a level playing field, including: the solvency level, the expected benefits, the liquidity on the interbank market, the evolution of human resources and the confidence of clients, whether private clients or entrepreneurs;

21.

Considers that conditionality should be attached to the banking sector rescue plans in terms of monetary incentives, provision of credit, lending conditions, restructuring of the sector and protection of social policy terms;

22.

Believes that the development of microcredit, which is recognised as an efficient tool with a strong multiplier effect, should be encouraged, in particular by making it a requirement for commercial banks that have benefited from public support;

23.

Insists that prime consideration must be given to recovering to normal levels of credit extension by banks when considering any new regulatory environment particularly in the interests of reviving the securitisation process as essential to the recovery of finance for mortgages, car finance and credit card funding;

24.

Calls on the Commission to produce a clear analysis of the impact of the rescue package on the competitiveness of the financial sector and the functioning of the interbank market; calls on the Commission to establish interdisciplinary teams, including expertise from the Commission Directorates General for Competition, Economic and Financial Affairs, and Internal Market and Services, the three Level 3 supervisory committees, and the European System of Central Banks, in order to pool knowledge and know how and to ensure that there will be balanced impartial high-quality and timely judgements across the Member States;

More effective regulatory and supervisory structures

25.

Considers that although the European Central Bank (ECB) has no official supervisory mandate, there is a need to enhance its role as regards monitoring financial stability in the euro area, notably in terms of supervision of the EU-wide banking sector; recommends, therefore, that the ECB should be involved in EU-wide macro-prudential supervision of systemically important financial institutions on the basis of Article 105 (6) of the Treaty;

26.

Regrets the absence of clear EU instruments and policies by which to address, in a thorough and timely manner, the asymmetric impacts of the financial crisis among Member States inside and outside the euro area;

27.

Reiterates its call for the Commission to analyse the effects of the behaviour of banks that moved their assets from the more recently acceded Member States after adoption of rescue plans by other Member States and to examine carefully the speculative action (short-selling) in relation to the currencies of the more recently acceded Member States; invites the Commission to communicate the results of that analysis to the de Larosière group and to Parliament’s responsible committee;

28.

Encourages the Commission and the Member States to tackle the problem of banking guarantees urgently, in order to ensure that similarly designed schemes would prevent banks from failing across the European Union, thus allowing interbank lending to be revived, such revival being a necessary condition for ending to the banking crisis and allowing new credit to be given to the real economy, increasing investment and consumption and so leading the way out of the economic crisis;

29.

Strongly urges the de Larosière Group to take on board the recommendations put forward in Parliament’s previous resolutions, relating to financial market supervision; urges the Commission to endorse its contributions to create a stable and efficient structure of regulation and supervision, which may prevent or limit the adverse impacts of future crises; calls on the Council duly to take into consideration the position that Parliament may express on those conclusions before endorsing them;

30.

Acknowledges the recommendations of the de Larosière group and stresses that many of them have been called for by Parliament in recent years; welcomes the Commission’s intention to use its power of initiative and take action to tackle the most urgent problems in relation to the financial crisis, and urges the Commission to start the process as soon as possible; calls on the 2009 Spring European Council to give a strong political impetus and to establish a road map for all legal initiatives in order to ensure their timely adoption together with Parliament;

31.

Reaffirms that more transparency and better risk-management as well as coordinated supervision provide most of the solutions to further crisis prevention and that the regulatory reform must be all-encompassing, applying to all actors and transactions in the financial markets; points to the fact that the global nature of financial markets necessitates an international coordination of reforms; stresses that regulatory initiatives must aim to create transparency, sustainability, stability and increased responsibility of financial actors in the market; reminds the Commission of its obligation to respond to Parliament’s requests regarding hedge funds and private equity;

32.

Considers that credit rating agencies should close information gaps and reveal uncertainties as well as conflicts of interests; insists on the need for a revision and improvement of accounting policies in order to avoid pro-cycle effects;

33.

Proposes to assess carefully whether or not future steps towards the sound regulation of the financial sector, notably the macro-prudential supervision of the regulatory framework, may render economic recovery and innovation in the field of financial products difficult or impossible and reduce the attractiveness of EU financial markets, diverting financial flows and enterprises towards third markets; recalls its best interest to remain the first financial market place in the world;

The real economy: the crisis as an opportunity to achieve sustainable growth

Safeguarding employment and boosting demand

34.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to use all means at their disposal to support EU undertakings, in particular SMEs, to promote job creation and boost the confidence of EU investors, employers, workers and consumers;

35.

Strongly recommends that sufficient, affordable and reasonably secure access to credit is urgently guaranteed across the European Union to SMEs, citizens and those sectors in which a sustainable future is endangered due to the crisis, in particular due to the lack of credit; calls on the Commission to ensure exchanges of best practices in this respect;

36.

Stresses that, in the current climate where SMEs face severe cash-flow problems and restricted credit access, public authorities and private clients should respect a maximum 30-day period for payments to SMEs; urges the Commission to take over this issue when revising the late payments directive (7);

37.

Calls for full enforcement and accelerated implementation, at both EU and national level, of Parliament’s recommendations in relation to the Commission communication on ‘Think Small First’ - A ‘Small Business Act’ for Europe (COM(2008)0394);

38.

Calls for the effective launch of a comprehensive European employment initiative, by ensuring that an undertaking can be set up free of charge anywhere in the European Union within three days, and that the formalities for the hiring of first employees can be fulfilled via a single access point on the one hand, and, by reinforcing activation schemes, particularly for the low-skilled, through personalised advice, intensive training or retraining and up-skilling of workers, apprenticeships, subsidised employment and start up grants for the self-employed and businesses on the other; in addition, is supportive of the allocation of the European Social Fund payments by the Commission to promote the development and matching of skills;

39.

Strongly recommends that the EU employment initiative include an early intervention at the time at which jobs are in fact lost, not least in order to reduce the risk of people becoming excluded from the labour market; considers that such interventions will require significant investment in training, including an increase in training providers while concentrating on the better coordination of training and labour reintegration programmes, and should use not only short-term measures but should also endeavour to make high-level qualifications possible in order to increase the overall skill levels within the European Union and to respond to the changing needs of the current economy;

40.

Welcomes the proposals of the Commission and calls on the Member States to adapt new provisions of the regulations of the European Social Fund, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, including the simplification of the procedures and the widening of eligible costs to serve employment and social inclusion goals even more efficiently, continuing to support employment in key sectors of the economy and ensuring that when providing such assistance strengthening of social and territorial cohesion remain a priority in order to avoid asymmetrical development within the European Union; hopes for the speedier release of funding targeted at employment support, and for EU support programmes to be geared to helping the most vulnerable groups in society including programmes to guarantee decent living conditions and access to high-quality services of general interest;

41.

Calls on the Member States to invest in the social economy, which can contribute to growth since it has considerable potential for creating high-quality jobs and strengthening social and territorial cohesion;

42.

Stresses the importance of implementing common principles of flexicurity while guaranteeing adequate social protection for all, in particular social security systems that provide appropriate protection with respect to national traditions;

43.

Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to continue to monitor regularly the development of the situation on the EU labour market and the impact of the crisis on that market, and to take appropriate measures to set the economies of the European Union on the road towards sustainable development;

44.

Stresses the need to guarantee adequate living standards for all citizens of the Union and calls for adequate emergency measures to be taken; calls for social policies to be adapted to cope with the recession, supporting active labour market and social inclusive policies and paying special attention to the most vulnerable members of society;

45.

Calls on the Commission to assess urgently the recession risks affecting industrial sectors across Europe in order to intervene at EU level, if needed; stresses, however, that some of the problems of EU industries may not be caused only by the financial crisis; is of the view, therefore, that State aid measures should be carefully targeted so as to not go beyond offsetting the effects of the financial crisis, and that they must be accompanied by the strictest conditions of restructuring, investment in innovation and sustainability;

46.

Warns against the undue loosening of the EU competition rules, as this might weaken the internal market; is concerned that national responses to the economic downturn may lead to protectionism and distortion of competition, which, in the long term, would seriously undermine the economic prosperity of the citizens of the Union;

47.

Calls for an assessment of the measures contained in the national recovery plans as regards their immediate impact on purchasing power;

48.

Calls for the Council to approve the proposal to give all Member States the option to apply a reduced VAT rate for energy-efficient goods and services, labour-intensive and locally supplied services; considering their potential employment and demand-boosting effect;

49.

Stresses the added value of the trans-European transport network programme (TEN-T) for the achievement of the Lisbon Strategy, the European Union’s climate change goals and for greater social, economic and territorial cohesion, while providing timely support for sustaining aggregate demand in the European Union; stresses the importance of the 30 TEN-T priority projects - in particular the cross-borders corridors - for re-launching the economy and for enabling the increasing demand for a better, environmentally friendly, co-modality; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop new methods of financing transport infrastructures and to increase substantially the budget for the TEN-T projects in future financial frameworks and in the Recovery Plan;

50.

Asks Member States to consider the possibility of reducing labour taxation in lower incomes in order to increase the purchasing power and stimulate demand for retail products;

Greater cohesion and less economic divergence

51.

Stresses the importance of territorial cohesion goals within the framework of proposed stimulus arrangements, given the clear asymmetric impact of the crisis across the European territory;

52.

Calls for the Commission duly to address, particularly in light of the present crisis, the impact of horizontal policies on regional divergent performances in the euro area, as highlighted in its Communication on EMU@10;

53.

Calls for the development of adequate mechanisms to guarantee that accelerated convergence of the less dynamic regions is structured upon strategic objectives such as, the greening of the economy and an adequate participation in the Lisbon Strategy namely by supporting innovation, SMEs and micro-level initiatives;

54.

Welcomes all the Commission proposals that simplify and accelerate access to the available cohesion instruments, and speed up project implementation, namely through front-loading funds, temporarily increasing community support rates, improving technical assistance, and accelerating payment procedures;

Smart and sustainable structural reforms and investments

55.

Calls for the refinement of the recovery instruments and policies at both EU and Member State level, capable of boosting demand and confidence across the European Union, in accordance with a common set of priorities within the Lisbon Strategy, such as: investing in education, infrastructure, research and development, skills and lifelong learning, energy efficiency and green technologies, broadband networks, urban transport, creative industries and services, health services, and services for children and older people;

56.

Welcomes the Commission’s proposal to bring forward from 2010 to 2009, EUR 500 million in investment in transport infrastructure; nevertheless stresses the need for the Commission and the Member States to include urban transport and TEN-T priority projects among those for the additional EUR 5 billion fund to be mobilised in accordance with the Recovery Plan; considers that those TEN-T projects at an advanced stage of implementation should, in particular, benefit from the greater availability of appropriations;

57.

Stresses that in the current, very dire, circumstances, access to EU funds is necessary for Member States that have more recently acceded to the European Union and that are not members of the euro area; those funds would be the required budget stimulus for countries which do not have the room for manoeuvre of the Member States in the euro area, or because they are running large budget and current account deficits;

58.

Stresses that the crisis has extremely negative economic and social consequences in many of the new Member States, posing a substantial risk to reduced growth and stability and increased poverty; furthermore, expects there to be spill-over effects affecting the euro and the economies of the euro area; therefore, calls for a Community-wide and coordinated approach for the purposes of Community solidarity and the realisation of collective responsibility in this respect; calls on the Commission to review and tighten all instruments for the stabilisation of affected Member States, including the stabilisation of exchange rates, so that quick and efficient safety net provisions and response packages can be implemented;

59.

Calls on the Commission to consider possible measures for the improvement of the energy security through the accelerated development of an internal gas transmission network of the European Union that would ensure the security of supply;

60.

Believes that a strong public investment policy, aiming at creating a ‘low-carbon economy’ is of utmost importance to face the economic recession;

61.

In this respect, calls on Member States to undertake reforms in their fiscal regimes for ensuring that certain sectors like agriculture, transport and energy, which impact so heavily on the environment, perform sustainably;

62.

Strongly supports the launching of a set of urban policies combining energy efficiency in transport and buildings with job creation;

63.

Stresses the need for an unprecedented coordinated effort to make major investments in the fields of energy, the environment and infrastructure to support sustainable development, help the creation of high-quality jobs and ensure social cohesion; considers, therefore, that people are more likely to accept the efforts required of them if those efforts are perceived to be fair and on the one hand and to guarantee employment and social integration on the other;

64.

Calls for EU initiatives in the field of education and training, and access to risk capital, credit and microcredit facilities in order to boost growth and convergence throughout the European Union;

65.

Stresses the need to reduce the bureaucratic burden on investment projects co-financed by private companies; calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to take measures that accelerate and facilitate investments;

66.

Stresses that in tackling the acute problems resulting from the economic crisis, sight should not be lost of the long-term strategy and the possibility of achieving some long-overdue goals, notably to:

intensify the elimination of barriers to the freedom to provide services, as provided for in the Services Directive (8), the implementation of which has been delayed, because of the enormous job-creation potential in the services sector;

enhance the implementation of the Postal Services Directive (9);

complete the internal market for energy;

urgently enhance investment in R&D, including by requiring substantial investment in R&D and innovation as a pre-condition for any support to industry, because the - fairly modest - Lisbon target of 3 % GDP has not been met to date, mainly because the private sector has failed to deliver on its 2 % share, and because, despite the stated objective of becoming the most dynamic knowledge economy in the world, the gap in R&D investment between the European Union and other regions is widening;

urgently finalise the EU patent regime;

remove any remaining obstacles to the freedom of movement for workers;

complete the TEN-T priority networks;

European economic instruments: the European Union acting in unison

Economic coordination

67.

Calls for improved coherence between the present recovery plan at Member State level, the Lisbon Strategy goals and priorities, the integrated policy guidelines and the National Reform Programmes as well as the use of the flexibility facilities granted by the revised SGP;

68.

Notes as a central dilemma in the current crisis that European economic policy instruments are not yet developed enough in order successfully to meet the challenges ahead; requires, therefore, a review and an update of the essential policy tools towards the 2010 Spring European Council, in particular the integrated policy guidelines;

69.

Calls for guidance by the Commission on the National Reform Programmes in light of its growth forecasts;

70.

Calls for adequate detailed criteria and standards to be developed for the close monitoring and regular reassessment of the effectiveness of the recovery plans by the Commission, in particular as regards the reality of the announced investments, bearing in mind that the full extent of the crisis and the requisite remedies cannot yet be totally assessed;

71.

Calls upon all relevant parties - Parliament, Council, the Commission and the social partners at EU and national level - to work together on the basis of the following suggestions during the Spring European Council in March 2009:

the development of mutual reinforcement of stability, and growth-oriented macro-economic policies by making stability policy and investment a matter of common and mutually supportive concern;

the establishment of a binding framework for Member States within which they consult each other and the Commission before taking major economic policy decisions, based on a common understanding of problems, priorities and the remedial measures which are necessary and appropriate;

the adoption of ambitious and tailored national recovery plans, updated stability and convergence programmes and a review of national budgets to react to the latest economic forecasts, as well as a commitment to their urgent implementation;

the formulation of a coherent EU strategy of short and long-term measures, based on common priorities and targets;

the strengthening of the economic governance of the euro area in line with the recommendations set out in Parliament’s resolution of 18 November 2008 on the EMU@10;

72.

Calls for an urgent examination by the Parliament, the Council, the Commission and the European Investment Bank of the benefits that would derive from the feasibility of a European sovereign debt fund, the debt servicing cost of which would be lower than for the equivalent aggregate of national debts and which would be temporary in nature and would be transferred after a period of time to national debts;

European Investment Bank

73.

Considers that involvement of the European Investment Bank (EIB) is crucial and that a large share of lending referred to in the Recovery Plan is within its competence; welcomes the Member States’ agreement on a capital increase for the EIB; recalls that some of the EIB interventions also require support from the EU budget, but that this is not currently provided for in the Recovery Plan; considers that this could be done either through blending grants and loans or in the form of equity or joint-risk sharing instruments such as the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) and the Loan Guarantee Instrument for Trans-European Transport Network projects (LGTT); in the latter case, the EIB could be requested to contribute with its own reserves, which would multiply the leverage effect; emphasises the EIB role in refinancing SMEs, commercial banks, including existing private-public partnership structures; recalls, in this respect, that there is a need to develop environmentally friendly funding criteria;

EU Budget

74.

Recalls that the Economic Recovery Plan and the subsequent measures proposed on 28 January 2009 by the Commission contain a Community contribution estimated at EUR 30 000 000 000, to be distributed among the following sectors: EUR 5 000 000 000 for energy interconnections and high-speed internet through a revision of the 2007-2013 multiannual financial framework (MFF) and measures related to the CAP ‘Health Check’; advanced payments under the Structural and Cohesion Funds; several initiatives in the area of research and innovation such as the European green cars initiative, factories of the future initiative and energy-efficient buildings initiative; an increase in the pre-financing for the most advanced trans-European transport projects as well as for initiatives in favour of SMEs or the Community innovation programme (CIP) and for funding already granted by existing or new loans and funds from the EIB;

75.

Stresses that the current crisis should not be used as a pretext to delay a much needed reorientation of spending towards ‘green’ investments, but should, rather, be used as an additional incentive to press ahead with such reorientation, and reiterates, in this context, the importance of the budgetary review planned for 2009, which should not be limited to a theoretical vision of what the budget could look like after 2013, but which should include bold proposals for a shift in programming at the time of the mid-term review of the multi-annual programmes to respond to the current crisis, promoting sustainable development and taking into account the challenges posed by climate change;

76.

Stresses that some elements proposed in the Recovery Plan are too vaguely formulated; asks the Commission to supply the two branches of the budgetary authority without delay with all the detailed information they need to take a decision; also stresses that several elements included in the Recovery Plan require the modification of the existing multi-annual programmes; recalls, in this regard, that these changes must be made in full compliance with the powers of Parliament;

77.

Stresses that, as a result, there is a risk that the implementation of the Recovery Plan as proposed by the Commission will take a considerable time and urges all the institutions concerned to adopt the necessary decisions as quickly as possible, given the very difficult current economic situation of the European Union;

78.

Stresses that most of the Community measures proposed by the Commission are based on a budgetary redeployment of allocations already programmed and not on the mobilisation of new budget resources; calls on the Commission to draw all the necessary conclusions from the very bad economic forecast it published in January 2009 and to reassess it budget proposals in the light of these new forecasts;

79.

Welcomes the Recovery Plan and related initiatives and recalls that any new expenditure that is not foreseen in the 2009 Budget must be financed with fresh money, in order not to compromise the 2007-2013 MFF negotiated between the two branches of the budgetary authority; recalls, in this context, the possibilities offered by the provisions of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 (IIA), in particular points 21 to 23 thereof;

80.

Emphasises that the Recovery Plan proposes multi-layered coordinated action to strengthen Europe’s economies; reiterates Parliament’s readiness to enter into negotiations with the Council for the EUR 5 000 000 000 revision of the 2007-2013 MFF proposed by Commission and any other modification of instruments that would have a budgetary impact; considers that negotiations should concentrate on extending the area of projects supported within this budgetary revision, in accordance with Member States’ priorities;

81.

Acknowledges the predominant role of the EIB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in contributing to financing investments and enhancing access to financing for business, in particular for SMEs; points out that contributions by the EU budget to EIB operations have the potential to create a substantial leverage effect on investment and wishes to examine how the EU budget could contribute further to bringing about such effects, and that, in any event, they should be accompanied by a Memorandum of Understanding between the Parliament, the Council, the Commission and the EIB on the priorities for investment, ensuring that these are geared towards truly sustainable projects; expresses concern at the growing tendency in the Council and the Commission to confer on the EIB and the EBRD many extra duties without having first provided all the necessary economic and financial guarantees that the EIB and EBRD will be able to carry out these duties successfully; notes that the Commission proposes to increase the financial instruments put in place by the EIB under the 2007-2013 MFF; asks the Commission to supply a first evaluation of the activities already undertaken in this context and to propose solutions regarding the budgetary and regulatory difficulties in the implementation of actions such as JASMINE, JASPERS and JEREMIE;

82.

Expects the Commission to clarify its intentions regarding the future actions, in particular regarding a possible contribution from the EU budget to reinforcing these instruments; calls on the Commission to indicate to the two branches of the budgetary authority the extent to which new instruments made available to the EIB for future initiatives will require intervention from the EU budget; further notes that the increase in the tasks conferred on the EIB and the EBRD poses significant questions with regard to the democratic scrutiny of the projects being financed, when funds from the EU budget are at stake;

83.

Regrets that the Commission proposal to invest in trans-European energy interconnections and broadband infrastructure projects remains in vain because of a lack of agreement within the Council, contrary to the will of the European Council, as expressed in December 2008; considers that the EU budget should be used to contribute in facing the economic crisis by means of the appropriate instruments provided for in the IIA and invites Council to enter into discussions with Parliament as soon as possible; considers that use can be made only of those margins that have been confirmed and not on the basis of estimated needs in future budget years; recalls that the exercise of redeployment could hinder existing policies; considers the mid-term review to be an ultimate and late opportunity for reacting to the economic crisis; points out that the Recovery Plan, if approved, will have a significant impact on the 2009 Budget; reminds the Commission that its proposal is indicative and dependent on the approval of the legislator; requests further details on the development stage of each project to guarantee a speedy implementation as well as an assessment of their effects in the short term on employment and growth of the whole EU economy and asks for concrete figures relating to implementation, particularly in respect of the financial programming; points out that EU spending on energy projects, which under the current EU financial framework must be limited, should focus on projects that can be started swiftly and which help to reach the European Union’s 2020 targets on climate change policies, notably energy savings and energy efficiency projects as well as investments in renewable energy networks;

84.

Recalls the joint declaration agreed at the conciliation meeting on 21 November 2008 on ‘Implementation of the cohesion policy’ highlighting the benefits for the economy of accelerating the implementation of structural and cohesion funds and on ‘payment appropriations’ supporting the financing of new initiatives particularly regarding the economic crisis; notes that the amount of additional advance payments foreseen in 2009 on the basis of the Commission proposal on the financial management of the ESF, ERDF and the Cohesion Fund is EUR 6 300 000 000 and that other proposed modifications to the financial management of the funds may increase the speed of interim payments;

85.

Asks the Commission to keep the budgetary authority informed and clarify whether anticipating payments in the framework of the financial management of the Funds will be in line with the schedule of payments foreseen for 2009 by the budgetary authority, namely if the level of payments agreed by Parliament and the Council will be enough to finance current or future initiatives;

86.

Recalls that any change in the level of payments that the Commission will propose must be included in an amending budget to be adopted by the two arms of the budgetary authority;

87.

Stresses the added value of the trans-European transport network programme (TEN-T) for the achievement of the Lisbon Strategy, the European Union’s climate change goals and for a greater social, economic and territorial cohesion, while also providing timely support for sustaining aggregate demand in the Europe Union; therefore welcomes the Commission’s proposal to bring forward from 2010 to 2009 EUR 500 000 000 in investment in transport infrastructure;

88.

Asks the Commission when presenting the list of specific projects applying for EU budget financing, and as requested by the December 2008 European Council, to take into account the need to increase the competitiveness of the EU economy with a long-term perspective, advancing infrastructure projects already decided and planned;

89.

Recommends a flexible approach to the European budget spending structure and the allocation of uncommitted appropriations or non-annually budgeted appropriations to priorities identified under a cohesion framework; calls once again for the urgent strengthening of the European budget, reassessing its size and its expenditure structure;

European Union and global governance

90.

Strongly encourages the European Union to play a leading role in international fora, notably in the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and at the coming meetings of the G20; considers it especially important to strengthen the multilateral surveillance of currency areas and financial markets; recalls that, in times of free global capital flows, convergence is at the heart of a true level playing field and of a comprehensive regulatory and supervisory framework;

91.

Recalls the importance of the next G20 Summit to be held in London on 2 April 2009, when it is anticipated that statements will be converted into decisions; recalls the importance of agreeing on a clear timetable for action so as to make the process output-oriented; insists on the fact that not only financial considerations should be agreed upon but that Member States’ Heads of State or government should also reflect on how to correct global imbalances and agree to coordinate the various, recently adopted recovery plans, bearing in mind the unemployment issue; supports the use of the recommendations of the de Larosière group as a basis for shaping the EU position on future financial architecture; calls on the Council and the Commission to seek Parliament’s views before agreeing on a negotiating position for the Summit;

92.

Strongly supports the decision of the European members of the G20 to take definitive action against tax havens and uncooperative jurisdictions by agreeing on a toolbox of sanctions as soon as possible, to be endorsed at the London summit; recommends that the EU should adopt at its own level the adequate legislative framework to restrict business with those jurisdictions; stresses that global convergent approaches are essential in order to tackle this issue;

93.

Strongly recommends that the impact of international transactions on the real economy across the European Union, particularly as regards trade, climate change and finance, be duly assessed; supports enhanced international dialogue with the most important currency blocks to avoid the consequences of currency manipulation and volatility on the real economy;

94.

Calls on the Council and the Commission to intensify consultation and foster cooperative relations with the European Union’s commercial partners, and, in particular, with the newly appointed US administration;

95.

Considers that the present crisis must not preclude the European Union’s responsibilities as regards promoting international development and combating world poverty; warns that the risk of a fallback to protectionist policies must be avoided; stresses that the worldwide recovery effort could be greatly enhanced by the timely conclusion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations;

*

* *

96.

Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Investment Bank, the European Economic and Social Committee and the president of the Eurogroup.


(1)  OJ C 16, 22.1.2009, p. 1.

(2)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0506.

(3)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0058.